Friday, December 12, 2008

2 Reptile Groups You May Not Know...


Let's start off by saying that Tuataras are not lizards. They are in the ancient reptile order RHYNCHOCEPHALIA. There are only 2 species of Tuatara left in the world, Sphenodon punctatus and S. guntheri, both of which live on small islands off the coast of New Zealand. They are both highly endangered, because of habitat destruction and predation by introduced species (such as cats, rats , and dogs). Tuataras have a "3rd eye" or parietal eye, which is a small eye like structure that senses light on the top of the head. Unlike other groups of Reptiles, they have 2 rows of upper teeth, which fit into the 1 row of lower teeth.

A Tuatara sits in front of its burrow on the floor of a deciduous forest on one of the islands off of the North Island of NZ.

Tuatara in a zoo habitat in NZ

Hatchling Tuatara raised in a zoo, without captive breeding programs at zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, they would quite possibly not have survived

One of the common prey items for Tuataras in the wild is the giant cricket endemic to NZ,
the Weta


Baja Worm Lizard or Ajolote (Bipes biporus)
Baja California, Mexico

Worm Lizards are a group of reptiles that there is some dispute about. Some herpetologists (scientists who study reptiles and amphibians) would place them as a group with in the lizards, while some would place them as another separate group within the order LACERTALIA (the order that contains LIZARDS and SNAKES). Amphisbaenians are predatory reptiles who are legless or only possess 2 small front legs. They are fossorial (burrowing underground) and have only rudimentary eyes, or eyes completely covered with skin.

When you live underground, you don't need eyes that much.

The completely legless Amphibaenia fulginosa

Iberian Worm Lizard (Blanus cinereus)
Iberian Peninsula (Spain & Portugal) and Gibralter Island

No comments: