Coming Out of Its Shell: Rare Footage of Ancient Reptile Hatching Surfaces

It was an event four decades in the making.

What could have been a scene out of Jurassic Park was real life as footage of an extremely rare reptile's hatching has arrived.

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The rare footage of a tuatara was recently caught on camera by England’s Chester Zoo for the first time.

The tuatara lived on the planet for 225 million years and before many dinosaur species, according to the zoo. The reptiles are native to New Zealand and went extinct in Europe 70 million years ago.

Reptile experts at the zoo have tried to breed the reptile back to Europe for the last four decades and started seeing success in 2016.

The last living species of the tuatara are only found in the wild of New Zealand. Experts do not know how the species died off around the world but remained in New Zealand.

More than six reptiles have hatched inside the Chester Zoo, with the most recent hatching filmed for the world to see.

“It took nearly 40 years of research and dedication to achieve the very first breeding of a tuatara outside their homeland in New Zealand last year. Now, after waiting all that time for the first to successfully hatch, six more have come along,” Isolde McGeorge, a reptile keeper at the zoo said in a statement.

Only a handful of zoos around the world work with the species, which are said to be difficult to care for.

The tuatara takes more than 20 years to reach sexual maturity and only reproduces every four years, according to the zoo.

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“Hatching these remarkable animals is real testament to the skill and expertise of the herpetology team at the zoo," McGeorge said. "Hopefully this means we’ve found the winning formula in terms of breeding the species, which has been a mystery to science for so long.

"Tuatara lived before the dinosaurs and have survived almost unchanged to the present day. They really are a living fossil and an evolutionary wonder."

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