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Sphenodon punctatus (GRAY, 1842)

IUCN Red List - Sphenodon punctatus - Least Concern, LR

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Higher TaxaSphenodontidae, Rhynchocephalia (tuatara)
Common NamesE: Tuatara (guntheri: Brothers Island tuatara)
G: Brückenechse, Tuatara, Schnabelkopfechse 
SynonymHatteria punctata GRAY 1842
Rhynchocephalus OWEN 1845
Sphenodon punctatum — GRAY 1869: 168
Sphenodon punctatum — BULLER 1870: 9
Sphenodon guntheri BULLER 1877
Hatteria punctate — BRÜHL 1886
Sphenodon punctatus guentheri — WETTSTEIN 1936 (nom. subst.)
Sphenodon punctatus reischeki WETTSTEIN 1943
Sphenodon punctatus reischeki — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1961: 46
Sphenodon punctatus punctatus — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1977: 151
Sphenodon punctatus guntheri — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1977: 151
Sphenodon punctatus reischeki — WERMUTH & MERTENS 1977: 151
Sphenodon punctatus — KING & BURKE 1989
Sphenodon punctatus reischeki — TIEDEMANN 1994: 14
Sphenodon punctatus reischeki — ROGNER 1997
Sphenodon guntheri — AITKEN et al. 2001
Sphenodon punctatus — MILLER et al. 2012 
DistributionNew Zealand (Islands off North Island & Cook Strait; Northland to Bay of Plenty Islands (Poor Knights Islands, Hen & Chicken Islands, Cuvier Island, Mercury Islands, Alderman Islands, Kawera Island, Plate Island, Moutolki Island)

Type locality: Karewa Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

guntheri: New Zealand (North Brother Island, Cook Strait)

reischeki: New Zealand (Hauturu Island); Type locality: “Hauturu-Insel bei Neuseeland”  
Reproductionoviparous; shows temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD). Tuataras have no penis, in contrast to other reptiles. 
TypesType: BMNH 1946.1.22.3 (and possibly additional specimens).
Holotype: Canterbury Museum, New Zealand [guntheri]
Holotype: NMW 21346; paratypes: NMW [reischeki] 
CommentSynonymy: There is a clear genetic separation between the population on North Brother Island and two other groups (western Cook Strait islands and all northern populations) on the basis of both allozyme genetic and morphometric variation (DAUGHERTY et al. 1990). However, the split does not seem to be as deep as initially thought and as a consequence, HAY et al. (2010) recommended to treat all tuataras as a single species, i.e. synonymize guntheri with punctatus.

Genomics: this is one of the species selected by the Genome 10K consortium for complete genome sequencing.

Type species: Hatteria punctata GRAY 1842 is the type species of the genus Sphenodon GRAY 1872 (nomen emendatum et conservatumg, Opinion 455, ICZN 1957, non Sphenodon LUND 189, a genus of fossil mammal). 
EtymologyThe Maori name "tuatara" means "peaks on the back", and refers to the triangular folds of skin which form a conspicious crest along the back and tail of the male.

The Latin name has been emended from the original “Sphaenodon” Gray 1831, and conserved by the Intl. Comm. Zool. Nomen. 1957, Opinion 455. Sphenodon is derived from the Greek “sphenos” = cuneiform, referring to the shape of it’s snout.

S. p. reischeki has been named after Austrian naturalist Andreas Reischek who collected the type specimens of this subspecies. 
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