The Loh Down On Science

Boys Club

Global warming spells more than bad news for female tuataras. It means extinction.

You think you had a tough time getting a prom date?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science.

The tuatara is a lizard-like reptile that's been basking in the New Zealand sun for over two hundred million years. Now tuataras are endangered, due to habitat loss and the introduction of predators.

And there's more bad news. As the climate heats up, the tuatara population threatens to go down. You see, a tuatara's sex is determined in the egg, depending on the surrounding temperature. At around seventy degrees, hatchlings can go either way--male or female. Lower temperatures produce only girls. Higher temps--just guys.

Australian researchers have been studying tuatara birth patterns. They warn if the present global warming continues, the tuatara will be a "boys only" club by the year twenty-eighty. And that? Spells extinction.

Solutions? The researchers propose relocating the species to cooler habitats--or even just putting up big, shady umbrellas over their nests during hatching season.

Otherwise on that island, it's going to be the Bachelor plus Survivor equals Lost. At least in TV math. Which can be helpful, don't you think?


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