Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
A Tuatara.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Order Rhynchocephalia

Rhynchocephalia (meaning "beak-heads") is an order from the Reptilia class.

History of discovery[]

In 1831, John Edward Gray first described the Tuatara as an agamid lizards. They remained misclassified until 1867, when Albert Günther of the British Museum noted features similar to birds, turtles, and crocodiles. He proposed the order Rhynchocephalia (meaning "beak head") for the tuatara and its fossil relatives. In 1925, Samuel Wendell Williston proposed the Sphenodontia to include only tuatara and their closest fossil relatives. Sphenodon from Greek sphen 'wedge' and odous 'tooth'. Many disparately related species were subsequently added to the Rhynchocephalia, resulting in what taxonomists call a "wastebasket taxon". These include the superficially similar (both in shape and name) but unrelated rhynchosaurs, which lived in the Triassic. These were resolved after use of computer based cladistics, which showed the core sphenodontian grouping to be monophyletic.