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The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

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Becoming a Dad at 111 Years Old

Posted February 04, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Henry, a tuatara from New Zealand, wasn't such a big fan of the ladies in his "younger" years. In fact, he bit off the tail of his female companion, Matilda, twice. Henry's behavior is excusable, however. Not only has he passed the century mark, he had surgery to remove a tumor from his genitals. Now, finally ready to help increase the tuatara population, Henry has mated with Mildred, who produced 12 eggs. The offspring will be born in 12-16 months.

What is a Tuatara?

The tuatara is a reptile species whose roots go back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Its close relatives, members of the order Sphenodontia, became extinct about 60 million years ago. It is next most closely related to the group Squamates, which are comprised of lizards and snakes.

Tuatara are interesting creatures not only because of their link to dinosaurs, but also because of some of their unique physical features. Apart from the spiny crest along their backs, they feature two rows of teeth in the upper jaw and a parietal eye. This third eye is only visible in hatchlings. Later, it's covered by scales and pigment. Yet research suggests it may be used in the manufacture of vitamin D and for thermoregulation.

That double row of teeth is used to dine on a diet of beetles, crickets, spiders, frogs, lizards, bird eggs, and chicks. Tuatara burrow for shelter; they use existing burrows or create their own. The reptile's preferred body temperature is from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is lower than most reptiles. Temperatures over 82 degrees Fahrenheit can be fatal to the tuatara.

Tuatara – Endangered Species

Today there are about 50,000 to 100,000 of the animals left. Each lives about 60 years in the wild. Henry is about two feet long and lives at the Southland Museum in New Zealand, where he has resided since 1970. He now keeps company with three females in his enclosure. It is hoped that he can help improve the genetic diversity of the species.

Resources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3348888/111-year-old-lizard-to-become-a-father.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/01/090127-reptile-dad-AP-picture.html

http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/article.html?in_article_id=252349&in_page_id=2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatara

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Re: Becoming a Dad at 111 Years Old

02/04/2009 11:05 PM

Oh! You disappointed many of us.

I thought Tuatara is the name of a person from NewZealand!

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