Tuatara are the last surviving members of the order Rhynchocephalia, or beak-heads. These ancient reptiles once flourished as long ago as 225 million years, before dinosaurs.
Tuataras are ancient reptiles that once flourished as long ago as 225 million years, before dinosaurs existed.
Around 70 million years ago the species became extinct everywhere except New Zealand, where it now has iconic status. The tuatara is steeped in Māori culture and is highly revered, with the islands on which they live now protected and very few people given permission to visit.
Although the tuatara looks very much like a lizard, it actually belongs to a group of animals commonly known as beak heads, or Rhynchocephalia.
The reptile, found wild only in New Zealand, is the last surviving species of its group. Its relatives died out more than 225 million years ago.
Chester Zoo first began caring for tuatara in 1962.