(photo: wandering tattler)
"Spotted" Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus
At first glance, this reptile may seem like any ordinary lizard. Except that it isn’t even in the same order as lizards. Tuataras are not squamates, but actually have their own order in which they are the only living genus. They have been referred to as “living fossils” due to their being considered the most unspecialized amniote alive. They haven’t evolved much over the last 200-million years, but don’t fix what isn’t broken, we suppose. With a lifespan of up to 100+ years (while remaining sexually active), these 2-foot (61 cm) critters seem to have it all figured out.
Tuataras have an interesting addition to their seemingly drab composition: a third “eye.” Located on the top of the head, their parietal eye cannot actually be used for seeing, but may help to determine light cycles and absorb UV light.