January 27, 2009

Rare Lizard Becomes Father At Age 111

A rare reptile in New Zealand known as Henry, has become a father for the first time at the age of 111.

Henry is a tuatara, a lizard-like creature of prehistoric origin, that has become the father of 11 offspring over the past four years, staff at the Southland Museum in the southern city of Invercargill said Tuesday.

Last March, he mated with Mildred, who later laid 12 eggs in June with 11 surviving.

"It's the completion of a love story," museum tuatara curator Lindsay Hazley said.

Henry is 2.6 pounds and 23 inches long, and was never known to attack female tuatara before his operation, was now living with three females "in great harmony" and was expected to mate again this year, Hazley said.

"He's had a major personality transplant."

However, Henry is unlikely to play an active role in parenting, because tuataras are known to eat anything that is small and moves.

This lizard species is the only surviving members of the order Sphenodontia, which was represented by many species during the age of the dinosaurs 200 million years ago, according to a government website.

The relatives to the tuatara became extinct about 60 million years ago.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia