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More Sphenodon Myths

On Mo, 5 Aug 1996, Lee J. McLean wrote:

> source of - I think it may have started from the factual statement that the
> tuatara is a "living fossil" reptile from the age of the dinosaurs. That

 The living species of Sphenodon (there are actually two 
species, so it is incorrect to talk about "THE tuatara") are not living 
fossils. Sure they had relatives in the Mesozoic, but there are also 
Mesozoic lizards, and lizards aren't usually called living fossils. 
Infact the fossil record of Sphenodon only goes back as far as the 
 Late Pleistocene (if that). Contrary to popular they are not identical 
to their Mesozoic forebears. The lack of a Cainozoic fossil record of 
tuataras in New Zealand is puzzling, especially since it was probably 
present in NZ before it broke away from Gondwana (Cretaceous?). Even more 
puzzling is the extremely short fossil record of those other NZ gondwanan 
endemics, the Moas. Now I know that terrestrial deposits may be few and 
far between but surely one or two bones of the Tertiary moas would done 
a bit of a nodosaur and ended up in the superb tertiary marine sequences 
of NZ? I don't know what this means if anything!    

"Another brilliant idea from the people who brought you beer milkshakes!"

Adam Yates