Science: Senior Reptiles

Three U.S. zoos, in New York, Chicago and San Diego, will soon have live reptiles that were already old-fashioned when the dinosaurs were still young. Tuataras (Sphenodon punctatus), which look like 2½-ft. lizards but are far more primitive, were plentiful round the world 200 million years ago. Now, almost unchanged, they are found only in New Zealand, that ultimate storehouse for discontinued zoological models.

When white men came to New Zealand, there were tuataras all over the place, but man's pets and camp followers (dogs, cats, rats, etc.) almost wiped them out. Only on a few small islands did they survive. Even...

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