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Creation 9(3):18, June 1987

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Tuatara—confined to its kind!


It looks like a lizard, but it croaks like a frog. It can go for an hour without taking a breath. And it is commonly said to live up to 300 years.1

There are many unusual features about this reptile called a tuatara, which is now found only on a few rocky offshore islands in New Zealand. It can withstand temperatures as low as 7 deg. C (45 deg. F)—which is the lowest temperature recorded by any reptile. In these cold conditions its movements become so slow it has been known to fall asleep in the middle of munching a mouthful of insects.

The tuatara can reach a length of 60 cm (two feet), and often shares its burrow with a bird—the petrel. When the female tuatara lays her eggs, they receive no attention from the parents, and can take 15 months to hatch. This is the longest incubation period known for a reptile. Growth rate is also slow; the tuatara doesn’t reach maturity until it is 20 years old, and it continues to grow until it is 50.

But the tuatara is best known to scientists for an even more amazing reason. It definitely has not evolved! Fossils of a creature virtually identical to the tuatara have been found in rocks which evolutionary geologists date at 200 million years old.2 

Apart from the fact that these reptiles seem to have become smaller in size, they appear to be virtually the same today as they always have been.

While evolutionists believe mutations and natural selection have occurred to the degree required to bring about all the living things we see today from a first microscopic form of life, the tuatara is excellent evidence against this. It is good evidence for creation, for the tuatara has simply reproduced ‘after its kind’—just as Genesis says all creatures would.

References and notes

  1. Nature’s Kingdom, Deans International Publishing, London, 1984, p. 22; Encyclopedia of Reptiles, Amphibians and Other Cold-Blooded Animals, Octopus Books Limited, London, 1975, p. 119. Return to text.
  2. Attenborough, D., The Living Planet, Guild Publishing, London, 1984, p. 261. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

David J.
Wouldn't it be possible that it didn't evolve because it was well enough equipped to survive in it's environment, and each mutated offspring died off and wasn't better than the original? I'm a Christian and consider myself a creationist, but a bit of healthy skepticism hasn't hurt anyone.
Warren Nunn
The following link should answer your question:
John Z.
Just as a point of clarification, while it is true that the reptile reproduced after its kind, and so has done what scripture indicated, it is not by itself evidence of no evolution. The evidence for no evolution is hard to come by in this case, but would have to be lack of possible descendants of other animal species from this reptile. In other words, they would argue that you could have the original, as well as offshoot types. Creationists also agree that the various kinds on the ark diversified or diverged into various strains or lines or varieties after leaving the ark. This is not to deny the significance of the existence of "ancient -dated" fossil types still alive today.
Don Batten
Please see, Evolutionists can’t dodge ‘Living Fossils’.
As for the lack of diversifying descendants, this is the general pattern of the fossil record; see That quote about the missing transitional fossils.
Jack M.
An interesting article, but taken in the round something doesn't add up.

Creationists, generally, don't believe in the absolute rule that things reproduce after their kind (in the sense that the tuatara is unchanged for 200 million years). They accept that the huge variety of canines on Earth have diversified from the small number on the Ark, and similarly for equines.

Okay, so some things (canines) have changed over the years and others (tuataras) have not. That's accepted by both creationists and evolutionists, and both offer their explanations.

It's not a differentiator between the two theories.
Don Batten
You have missed the point. Yes, creationists believe that creatures can change quite remarkbly, quite quickly, but within limits (Chihuahuas and Great Danes are still interfertile, still the same biological species). However, according to evolutionists such changes can be extrapolated over hundreds of millions of years to explain all the diversity of life, from microbes to mangoes, mongooses and mankind. In that context, how could anything remain the same for '200 million years'? There are thousands of such 'living fossils', with quite a number 'dated' as 500 million years or more. Such extreme stasis ('staying the same') is a huge problem for the evolutionary story. See Dodging living fossils.

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