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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!"