Tuataras lived on the mainland of New Zealand before the arrival of the Maoris but either were exterminated by hunting or died out as a result of the altered environment. Their survival on the offshore islands was threatened by the introduction of sheep, which altered the vegetation by grazing however, they are now under strict government protection, and their numbers are increasing. In 2005 tuataras were reintroduced on the mainland at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.
Tuataras are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Rhynchocephalia.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology
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