tu·​a·​ta·​ra | \ ˌtü-ə-ˈtär-ə How to pronounce tuatara (audio) \
plural tuatara or tuataras

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

Illustration of tuatara

Examples of tuatara in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some of the area's species, like tuataras and kiwis, survived to the present. Gavin Mouldey, National Geographic, "Extinct Burrowing Bat Discovered, and It Was Giant," 11 Jan. 2018 On New Zealand's North Brother Island, for instance, rising temperatures have already biased the local tuatara population male— Jason Bittel, National Geographic, "Chameleon Mummified Alive by the Tropical Sun," 20 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tuatara.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of tuatara

1890, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tuatara

borrowed from Maori

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Time Traveler for tuatara

Time Traveler

The first known use of tuatara was in 1890

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Cite this Entry

“Tuatara.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tuatara. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on tuatara

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tuatara

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