Climate Change Puts New Zealand's Tuatara at Risk


Scientists in New Zealand worry that climate change could spell trouble for the tuatara, a reptile whose ancestors date back to the time of the dinosaurs. Like many reptile species, the gender of tuatara hatchlings is determined by the gestation temperature of its eggs (warmer eggs become male). Climate change means that eggs could stay warmer, resulting in too few females to keep the species going. The tuatara already has a male-heavy population (1.7 times more males than females on one of the 30 islands where the tuatara is found), and any further shifting of the gender scales could prove disastrous. Of course, the tuatara could adapt to climate change and lay its eggs deeper in the soil to keep them cooler, but behavior like that is hard to count on.


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