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Rare reptile found first time in 200 years

A hatchling of a rare reptile with lineage dating back to the dinosaur age has been found in the wild on the New Zealand mainland for the first time in about 200 years.

The baby tuatara was discovered by staff during routine maintenance work at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tuatara, which measure up to 32 inches when full grown, are the last descendants of a lizard-like reptile species that walked the Earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

There are estimated to be about 50,000 of them living in the wild on 32 small offshore islands cleared of predators, but this is the first time a hatchling has been seen on the mainland in about 200 years.

The New Zealand natives were nearly extinct on the country's three main islands by the late 1700s due to the introduction of predators such as rats.


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