Monday, December 14, 2009


Reptiles are air-breathing vertebrates which have limbs (except snakes and some lizards), are cold-blooded and have horny covering of scales or horny plates. There are about 3,000 species. The four orders of modern reptiles are the crocodiles and alligators, tortoises and turtles, snakes and lizards and the Tuatara.

The last-named order means break headed, and the Tuatara, which is a Maori name, is the only survivor of it. Looking rather like a lizard with a beaked face it lives on some of the lonely islands off the coast of New Zealand. It is truly a precious living fossil, since this reptile order goes back to the time of the dinosaurs. The Tuatara seems to be slow in everything it does, even to its movements. It lives in underground burrows, often in company with a sea-bird, a species of petrel. The reptile sleeps there by night and the bird by day. The eggs have a long incubation period and it is sometimes as much as eighteen months before the young hatch out.

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