noun \ˌtü-ə-ˈtär-ə\
plural tu·a·tara or tu·a·taras

Definition of TUATARA

:  a large spiny quadrupedal reptile (Sphenodon punctatum) of islands off the coast of New Zealand that has a vestigial third eye in the middle of the forehead representing the pineal gland and that is the only surviving rhynchocephalian

Illustration of TUATARA

Origin of TUATARA

Maori tuatàra
First Known Use: 1890

Rhymes with TUATARA


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

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..


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