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"A penny for your thoughts"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Father at the age of 111

A captive reptile , named Henry, in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 on Monday 26 Jan 2009. He was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March after a cancerous tumor was removed from his genitals in 2002 that made him hostile toward prospective mates. This consummation resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery .

The tuatara is a reptile endemic to New Zealand which, though it resembles most lizards, is actually part of a distinct lineage, order Sphenodontia. Tuatara are greenish brown, and measure up to 80 cm (32 in) from head to tail-tip with a spiny crest along the back, especially pronounced in males. The tuatara has been classified as an endangered species since 1895 (the second species, S. guntheri, was not recognised until 1989). Tuatara, like many of New Zealand's native animals, are threatened by habitat loss and the introduced Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans). They were extinct on the mainland, with the remaining populations confined to 32 offshore islands, until the first mainland release into the heavily fenced and monitored Karori Wildlife Sanctuary in 2005. The name "tuatara" derives from the Māori language, and means "peaks on the back". A male Tuatara takes 70 years to fully mature but reaches sexual maturity about age 20. Adult tuatara are terrestrial and nocturnal reptiles, though they will often bask in the sun to warm their bodies. Hatchlings hide under logs and stones, and are diurnal, likely because adults are cannibalistic. Tuatara thrive in temperatures much lower than those tolerated by most reptiles, and hibernate during winter. They are further unusual in having a pronounced parietal eye, dubbed the "third eye", whose current function is a subject of ongoing research. VIA

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