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Either of two species (Sphenodon punctatus and S. guntheri) of lizardlike nocturnal reptiles of the order Sphenodontida, found on certain islets of New Zealand. Up to 2 ft. (60 cm) long and weighing over 2 lb (1 kg), tuataras have two pairs of well-developed limbs, a scaly crest down the neck and back, a third eyelid that closes horizontally, and a pineal eye between the two normal eyes. A bony arch behind the eyes distinguishes tuataras from lizards. They eat insects, other small animals, and birds' eggs. In the spring the females lay 8–15 eggs away from their burrow. Tuataras may live 60 years or more..
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tuatara, visit Britannica.com.