Ecology: Phil's pic of the week - the tuatara

Photo / Phil Brown
Photo / Phil Brown

This week, we are proud to show you the first in a series of weekly photos from Phil Brown, a guide at Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust.

Phil snapped this photo of one of the Trust's newest arrivals - thirty tuatara.

Tuatara are only found in New Zealand and their closest relatives became extinct some 60 million years ago. Tuataras are living fossils - some tuatara remains that have been found have been aged at an astonishing 220 million years. Tuatara saw many of the dinosaurs come and go.

Phil says, "We don't know how long they live for but it could be a very long time, maybe up to two hundred years. They get into a motionless state for up to six hours at a time and while whey are like this they only breathe once an hour".

"Tuatara lay up to four eggs once every four years into soft ground where the sun and the temperature of the ground determine the sex of the offspring.

The young tuatara come out during the day as they are likely to be eaten by the adults if they come out with the adults at night. People come from around the world to see our tuatara because they are a living dinosaur."

For more information on Maungatautari Ecological Island visit their website or their facebook page.

To see more of Phil's work check out his website.

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