111-Year-Old Lizard Daddy

January 27th, 2009at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Tuatara
AP Photo/Karori Sanctuary

I know, technically he’s not actually a lizard, but he’s pretty close…

A captive reptile in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.

The centenarian tuatara, named Henry, was thought well past the mating game until he was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March — a consummation that resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday.

Tuatara are indigenous New Zealand creatures that resemble lizards but descend from a distinct lineage of reptile that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

(…)

Henry was at least 70 years old when he arrived at the museum, “a grumpy old man” who attacked other reptiles, including females, until a cancerous tumor was removed from his genitals in 2002, said Hazley.

“I went off the idea he was good for breeding,” Hazley said, but once the tumor was removed, “he was no longer aggressive.”

(…)

A male Tuatara takes 70 years to fully mature but reaches sexual maturity about age 20.

While there’s no scientific data on the life span of the ancient reptiles, “they go beyond 100 well and truly,” Hazley said. “They can be around for 150 to 250 years.”

Huh.  So today I learned that it’s not just tortoises that live forever, and that untreated genital cancer makes you cranky.  Who knew.

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science


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