from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Either of two nocturnal lizardlike reptiles (Sphenodon punctatus or S. guntheri) that are found only on certain islands off New Zealand and are the only extant members of the Rhynchocephalia, an order that flourished during the Mesozoic Era. Also called sphenodon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Either of two reptiles, Sphenodon punctatus or Sphenodon guntheri, native to New Zealand, that resemble lizards.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large iguanalike reptile (Sphenodon punctatum) formerly common in New Zealand, but by 1900 confined to certain islets near the coast. It reaches a length of two and a half feet, is dark olive-green with small white or yellowish specks on the sides, and has yellow spines along the back, except on the neck. It is the only surviving member of the order Rhyncocephala. Also called tuatera and hatteria.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. only extant member of the order Rhynchocephalia of large spiny lizard-like diapsid reptiles of coastal islands off New Zealand


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Maori tuatara : tua, back + tara, spine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Maori tuatara.


  • One endangered reptile in an order of its own, called a tuatara, has a light receptive organ on its head; almost like a third eye.

    CreationWiki - Recent changes [en]

  • In your mind, you're walking past the entrance to the Matterhorn, past the statue by the bucket fountain which nobody can ever agree on, as to if it's a frog or a tuatara, which is quite bizarre, you realise now, considering how utterly different they are.

  • Henry the tuatara is a dad at 111 - Australasia, World - The Independent

    European Tribune

  • The tuatara is a reptile species whose roots go back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.


  • Despite this, scientists have been surprised to find that the tuatara is the "fastest evolving" creature on the genetic level.

    CreationWiki - Recent changes [en]

  • Zealand -- the "tuatara" or Sphenodon -- entered its area at a still earlier stage of surface change.

    More Science From an Easy Chair

  • The word "tuatara" is derived from a Maori word meaning "spiny back."

  • "dinosaur forests", unusual birds and living fossils such as tuatara, giant kauri snails and mute frogs.

    Latest Massey News

  • The tuatara, a nocturnal lizardlike reptile from New Zealand, shares a nest with the diurnal petrel, a sea bird.

    For young readers: ‘How to Clean a Hippopotamus'

  • The petrel builds the nest, which the tuatara defends and keeps pest-free.

    For young readers: ‘How to Clean a Hippopotamus'


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  • a primitive New Zealand "lizard" that is not truly a lizard but has evolutionary characteristics of reptiles and and birds; its Maori name means "peaks on the back," and it looks a bit like a brown-green iguana; endangered

    June 27, 2007