T is for Tuartara

T

Part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

Inspired by The San Diego Zoo‘s information on Tuataras, specifically this:

“Found in New Zealand only, the tuatara’s closest relatives are an extinct group of reptiles around at the time of the dinosaurs. This is why some scientists refer to tuataras as “living fossils.”

The burrow was cool and cosy. Sunlight baking the earth above but the shadows inside provided a enjoyable respite. It was too hot for him nowadays.

A good few years ago he would have been out, scampering around the undergrowth looking for a tasty morsel. Time had moved on though, and he was left behind, watching the young ones run around. Watching them court danger and tease their prey. Oh, to be young again.

Now his left back knee gave him jip in the heat and he sought the coldest areas he could find. Sometimes he found himself sleeping earlier in the winter and waking later. Always taking the longest hibernations he could. Recently even the crunchiest insects had lost their taste.

He pondered over his life as the resident of the burrow came home to find it occupied. He frightened them off and slunk ever deeper into the earth. Yes, the sun was beaming today, and there was a fresh crisp wind rolling in from the sea. But, he thought to himself, maybe now was the time to bunker down. He curled himself into a ball, closing his eyes.

A long time ago, he had met his father, a tuartura who was old and getting on in years, and his father had said to him,

“Son, one day you’ll get to my age and you’ll realise you want nothing more than to melt into the ground. To join with our ancestors who roamed the earth with the dinosaurs.”

At the time he had thought his father silly. How could anyone ever want to give up racing through the undergrowth, blinking in the night and challenging each other to breath holding contests.

Now he too was an old man, and he saw the wisdom in his father’s words. He took a deep breath and released it slowly, Sinking into the earth and joining his ancestors in the big burrow in the sky.

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T is for Tuartara

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