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Temporal range: Early JurassicHolocene, 176–0 Ma
Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Rhynchocephalia
Suborder: Sphenodontia
Family: Sphenodontidae
Cope, 1870 (conserved name)
Type species
Hatteria punctata
Gray, 1842
  • Hatteriidae
    Cope, 1864 (rejected name)
  • Rhynchocephalidae
    Hoffmann, 1881 (rejected name)

Sphenodontidae is a family within the reptile group Rhynchocephalia. Most members of this family are only known from fossils but there is one living member, the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)[2] from New Zealand. They were a quite ecologically diverse group, ranging from terrestrial carnivores and insectivores (Sphenodon) to aquatic herbivores (Ankylosphenodon) and durophagy (Oenosaurus[3]).

The following is a cladogram of Rhynchocephalia after Rauhut et al. (2012):[3]


Sphenodon (Tuatara)





  1. ^ Apesteguia, R. O. Gomez; Rougier, G. W. (2012). "A basal sphenodontian (Lepidosauria) from the Jurassic of Patagonia: new insights on the phylogeny and biogeography of Gondwanan rhynchocephalians". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 166: 342–360. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2012.00837.x. [R. Benson/R. Benson]
  2. ^ Sphenodon punctatus in the Reptile Database, accessed 23 Jan 2016
  3. ^ a b Rauhut, O. W. M.; Heyng, A. M.; López-Arbarello, A.; Hecker, A. (2012). "A new rhynchocephalian from the Late Jurassic of Germany with a dentition that is unique amongst tetrapods". PLOS ONE. 7 (10): e46839. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046839. PMC 3485277. PMID 23118861.