Rare Reptile Hatchling Found in New Zealand

A marked tuatara at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

A hatchling of a rare reptile with lineage dating back to the dinosaur age has been found in the wild on the New Zealand mainland for the first time in about 200 years, a wildlife official said Thursday.

The baby tuatara was discovered by staff during routine maintenance work at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in the capital, Wellington, conservation manager Raewyn Empson said.

”We are all absolutely thrilled with this discovery,” Empson said. ”It means we have successfully re-established a breeding population back on the mainland, which is a massive breakthrough for New Zealand conservation.”

Tuatara, which measure up to 32 inches 80 cm when full grown, are the last descendants of a lizard-like reptile species that walked the Earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

There are estimated to be about 50,000 of them living in the wild on 32 small offshore islands cleared of predators, but this is the first time a hatchling has been seen on the mainland in about 200 years.”

(New York Times )

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