The Tuatara


Tuatara are the only extant members of the Order Sphenodontia and endemic to New Zealand. Every other species in this Order became extinct about 60 million years ago, leading scientists to refer to tuatara as “living fossils”.

Tuatara are thought to have been extinct as a breeding population on the three main islands of New Zealand for around 200 years. They were wiped out, primarily, by the kiore (Pacific rat) which arrived with the first Polynesian settlers around 700 years ago.