Tuatara Adaptions

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Biology
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Tuatara Adaptions

Adaptations of the Tuatara

Males have spiky crests scaling most of its back. Males fan out the larger crest of spines around the neck to impress the females.

Tuatara vary colouration in greenish, brown and gray, due to skin alteration over the years and shedding skin annually

Tuataras search for food on the ground, such as insects, little mammals.

The Tuataras third eye can only be seen atbirth. However, skin will grow over itwhen they gradually become an adult

Tuataras have claws like vices, to keep hold of their prey ( generally the ones that are fairly large)

The eyes are well developed with vertical pupils ad retinal structure for low intensity light.

IntroductionTuataras are ancient reptiles commonly mistaken as lizards. However, the tuatara is a actally only a very distant relative of the lizard and snake. The Tuatara is believed to have broken off from lizards and snakes more than 200 million years ago. They are only found in New Zealand and are one of NZSs most notable animals. Tuataras were once distributed aal over the country , but when rodents , wild cats and pigs were introduced

Its body is covered in scales because it is a reptile, but commonly mistaken as a lizard. This is evident that it is a ancient descendant of dinosaurs, lizards and snakes.

A Tuataras body is mottled; it has colouration ranging from dirty tan , olive green to a slaty gray. Its body colour can change over it lifetime , because they shed skin annually. The reason why their skin is this colour is unknown , but theories have stated that their skin colour can help them blend in with the forest floor when they come out to feed and avoiding predators .

Colour Adaptation

Behavioural Adaptations: Tuataras are terrestrial and nocturnal reptiles especially males who aggressively defend their territory by posturing, displaying and fighting. Tuataras are more active in night time than day time. At night time the Tuataras would tend to come out of their burrows and hunt for eggs, chicks, along with insects and small lizards (invertebrates) during warmer nights. During the daytime, they stay in their underground burrow shared with seabirds and come out to the burrow entrance to sunbathe, or bask, and warm their bodies while the food eaten the previous night digests. Tuataras are exothermic, active at low temperature; maintain normal activity at temperature as low as 7 degrees. Tuataras are unusual reptiles because they like cool weather. They do not survive well over 25 degrees centigrade but can live below 5 degrees, by sheltering in burrows But sometimes they just come out to take the chill off .As reptiles, tuatara eat, move, live slowly, involving breathing and its heartbeat is slower compared to other animals. They have a long life-span, somewhere between 60 and possibly 100 years. In order to communicate, they make croaking noises, and the use of body language to commune.

to he mainland it drove them to extinction there. Now they inhabit37 offshore islands e.g Karorri Sanctuary , in order to survive with a steady population of 50,000-100,000. However, over half the population are on Stephen Island where it is exceptionally high. There are two different species, one is the the Sphenodon Punctuas who is a Cook Strait Tuatara living in Stephen Islands. The second specie is the Norhtern Tuatara, Sphnenodon Punctuates, sub- specie living on offshore islands around the north of the North Island.

Structual Adaptations:The Tuatara is a mid-sized reptile able to grow about 25cm in length and weighing between 40g to 1 kilogram. The males tend to be larger than female in size, often approaching 60cm (24 inches) in length, and generally weighing twice a s much as females. Males have a distinctive spiky crest scaling down its back which he can fan out to attract females. These spiky crests are made of triangular soft folds of skin, that stiffen during mating or when displaying aggression. Tuataras have robust lizard like bodies with a large head, well developed limbs and teeth that are fused permanently onto the jaw. Their snout is distinct because of the presence of its toothless premaxilary bones that cause its beak like appearance. The entire body is covered in scales. Males and females possess a series of broad spines, which are derived from scales, that extend down the midline of the back from the nape onto the tail. The largest spines occur on the neck and trunk.Tuatara have a single row of teeth in the lower jaw that fits between two rows of teeth in the upper jaw. This helps tuatara tear apart hard foods such as weta.

The Tuatara is devouring a weta.


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