As you might expect from an animal that is so evolutionarily distant from its nearest relatives, the tuatara also has some unique parasites to call its own. One of these is the tick Amblyomma sphenodonti (sometimes also called Aponomma sphenodonti), pictured here.
Like many ticks, A. sphenodonti are host-specific, spending all three of their life stages feeding on tuatara but dropping off into the soil in between stages.
So why should you care about tuatara ticks? Well, these ticks are evolutionarily distinct in their own right, and are actually quite rare – far rarer than the tuatara themselves. Read the rest of this entry »