Live Baby Dinosaur Discovered In New Zealand
2011-03-01 0:00

By Terrence Aym |

Most people grew up being taught that the mighty race of dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. But it’s not true; dinosaurs still walk the Earth.

No, it isn’t a T-Rex or a living relative of the Loch Ness Monster…but it is one of the oldest living creatures on Earth.

A dinosaur that didn’t go extinct 65 million years ago may be news to some people, including many Western paleontologists that have created a cottage industry debunking living dinosaur stories. Well here’s one they can’t debunk because even New Zealand scientists agree that this dinosaur specimen is the real deal.

For only the second time in more than two centuries a genuine baby dinosaur has been seen on the mainland of New Zealand and the news has scientists bubbling over with undisguised joy.

“This is a significant and exciting discovery!” exclaimed Nancy McIntosh-Ward the Zealandia Chief Executive. Zealandia is a non-profit animal and bird sanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand.

Meet the tuataras

Often called living fossils by those who know they really do exist, the tuataras sure might look like a lizard, but they’re not. The tuatara is really a living dinosaur that belongs to the order Rhynchocephalia. That order of dinosaur became extinct about 60 million years in the past. All went extinct…except the tuataras.

This particular dinosaur specimen is about three months old. The discovery has many top scientists thinking that more baby tuataras exist.

McIntosh-Ward noted, “We were overjoyed to find our first baby tuatara in March last year, now the discovery of a second youngster confirms that tuatara are successfully breeding in Zealandia-–the only place on the mainland where tuatara live freely."

Conservation ecologist Susan Keall of Victoria University declared the news of the baby tuatara exciting. “Baby tuataras are very small and very cryptic in their behavior. It strongly suggests there are others.”

No known natural predators

One of the most un-evolved animals found anywhere on Earth, the tuatara are a dinosaur species that’s remained unchanged since it first appeared 200 million years ago. Fossil and DNA analysis allows its lineage to be traced back to the Late Triassic during the Mesozoic Era.

Scientists believe the animal’s managed to survive in New Zealand because it has no natural predators.

"With a population of 200 tuatara we can assume there are many more youngsters but with them being so small in such a large area it is hard for us to monitor their breeding," McIntosh-Ward added.

Fascinating tuataras facts:

1. These little dinosaurs only require a breath of air once an hour.

2. They don’t drink water.

3. They have three eyes. Every tuataras sports a third pineal eye on top of their heads that has a retina and primitive lens. The eye is functional—it’s connected to the brain. By the time the dinosaurs become adults the third eye is overgrown with skin and no longer functions.

4. Some researchers believe the third eye evolved to protect the babies from flying predators that might swoop down from the sky.

4. Female tuataras carry their eggs for four years.

So, dinosaurs still exist. This fact might make a good bar bet and win some a round of drinks.

Article from:

Ancient Tuatara Fathers Young

Video from:

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