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n. pl. tuatara or tu·a·ta·ras
Either of two lizardlike reptiles (Sphenodon punctatus or S. guntheri) that inhabit several small New Zealand islands and are the only extant members of the group Rhynchocephalia or Sphenodontia, which flourished during the Mesozoic Era. Also called sphenodon.

[Maori tuatara : tua, back + tara, spine.]


(Animals) a greenish-grey lizard-like rhynchocephalian reptile, Sphenodon punctatus, occurring only on certain small islands near New Zealand: it is the sole surviving member of a group common in Mesozoic times. Also called: hatteria
[C19: from Māori, from tua back + tara spine]


(ˌtu əˈtɑr ə)

also tu•a•te•ra

(-ˈtɛər ə)

n., pl. -ras.
a large lizardlike reptile, Sphenodon punctatus, of New Zealand: the only surviving rhynchocephalian.
[1810–20;< Maori, =tua dorsal + tara spine]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.tuatara - only extant member of the order Rhynchocephalia of large spiny lizard-like diapsid reptiles of coastal islands off New Zealandtuatara - only extant member of the order Rhynchocephalia of large spiny lizard-like diapsid reptiles of coastal islands off New Zealand
diapsid, diapsid reptile - reptile having a pair of openings in the skull behind each eye
genus Sphenodon, Sphenodon - coextensive with the order Rhynchocephalia: tuataras
References in periodicals archive ?
La capacidad regenerativa no es homogenea en todos los grupos, ya que en lagartijas y tuataras esta mejor representada, mientras que en serpientes, tortugas y cocodrilos es limitada, y es ausente en anfisbenidos (Alibardi 2010; Bateman & Fleming 2009; Clause & Capaldi 2006).
To enter downtown Auckland's souvenir stores is to find--as well as the predictable bland fridge-magnets of kiwis, tuataras, and other charming if introverted local animals--certain trinkets that would make a Klansman swallow hard.
That means one-way airflow may have arisen not among the early archosaurs about 250 million years ago, but as early as 270 million years ago among cold-blooded diapsids, which were the common, cold-blooded ancestors of the archosaurs and Lepidosauromorpha, a group of reptiles that today includes lizards, snakes and lizard-like creatures known as tuataras.
They may hold the key to why other tuataras are dying out and Shawn Morris is determined to make money out of this.
Our vaults contain amazing specimens, from tuataras, survivors of an ancient lineage, to very rare secretive, legless amphibians.
Temperatures above 71 degrees Fahrenheit create more male tuataras, while cooler temperatures lead to more females.
Three-eyed ancient reptiles called tuataras lurk in the undergrowth.
Tuataras are the last reptile on Earth that were on the planet at the same time as dinosaurs -- around 220 million years ago.
The tuataras were thought to be a single species until 1990, when it was discovered that the population on the North Brother Island is very genetically distinct and belongs to a different species (S.
Tuataras (too-uh-TAR-uz) have been around longer than any other living reptile.
The analysis by Hedges and Poling, however, places tuataras nearer to crocodiles than to lizards.