“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
What’s green, has three eyes and is one of the rarest animals on Earth?
The answer: the tuatara. This reptile is found today only on a few small islands off New Zealand. Its home on the islands in the Bay of Plenty and Cook Strait has no mammals at all. The tuatara was once also found in New Zealand. However, when settlers introduced mammals, the tuatara became extinct, probably because it could not compete with the mammals.
The tuatara is a reptile that is the only surviving species in its order. That means it’s so different from other creatures that science knows of no similar creatures living today. It grows to a length of about two feet. The chunky reptile has a dark olive green body with light-colored spots. Its eyes are like those of the cat, except for one thing – it has three of them. Besides the eyes you would expect on each side of its head, it has a third eye on top of its head. Scientists don’t believe that this third eye actually works. That’s because its structure does not seem to be that of a complete, working eye. However, this third eye does have a retina and other eye structures. A nocturnal animal, the tuatara eats insects, worms and small animals. It buries its 12 to 14 eggs in a shallow hole in the ground where they take up to a year to hatch.
The tuatara is a special example of God’s creativity and His care for His creatures. It certainly isn’t the fittest creature, yet God seems to have taken special care to preserve this unique animal.
I thank You, dear Father, that Your love and care are handed out based on Your mercy rather than on human values. I thank You that for this reason You sent Your Son to pay the penalty for my sins so that You could forgive me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Photo: A male tuatara named Henry, living at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, is still reproductively active at 111 years of age. Courtesy of KeresH. (CC BY 3.0)