The tuatara is an endangered reptile that lives on the islands off the coast of New Zealand. It is the only living survivor of a group of creatures that lived in the days of the dinosaurs.
Most carnivorous mammals have molar teeth for chewing food up before it’s swallowed. Most carnivorous reptiles gulp their food down without chewing it.
But the tuatara is a reptile unlike any other. It is the only reptile on the planet with a unique set of teeth that it uses to chew prey before swallowing. When a tuatara closes its mouth, the single row of sharp-edged teeth on the lower jaw fit between the two rows on the top jaw. With this specialized set of teeth, they are able to eat a variety of food, shredding prey into smaller pieces before swallowing. Tuataras eat everything from beetles and crickets to small lizards and birds.
I'm Susan Grigsby, a writer and teacher. Learn more about my books at susangrigsby.com