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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)

Unnatural History

Unnatural History.

Speaking of knowledge, allow me to give some the air. When New Zealand was chipped off the edge of China and started on its downward path, it is probable that its fauna included many Chinese puzzles on the hoof. But the carnivora gradually extinguished themselves by a process of mastication. The snakes and adders played snakes and ladders with each other until the winner died of distension of the rungs, and the only livestock to rise superior to the situation were the birds—with the exception of one or two heavier-than-air specimens of wild life who proved too tough for the table. The chief of these was the tuatara. He is the only animal who can stand in one place as long as a policeman. In fact, he is the pioneer of the slow-motion stunt. His idea of strenuous exercise is to break out into goose-flesh, and when he is really reckless he shifts his weight from starboard to port. This done, he takes a couple of years off to rebuild his depleted tissues. In appearance, he resembles an embalmed pineapple in mourning, or a wet Sunday afternoon in Scotland. He often lives for a hundred years or more, but scientists have never been able to discover why. No one knows what a tuatara really is, but if he is not a snake with a pedestrian complex, then he must be a prehistoric postponement in a rubber overcoat. The tuatara is not a fast eater; his idea of a quick-lunch is to bolt the same piece of nourishment for two months.

An Early Special

An Early Special

If it takes more than one swallow to make a summer, it takes a multitude of chews to stoke a tuatara.

I love tuataras their coats are so
They never get vulgar, or otherwise
They keep without spirits for ages or
And ‘though sleeping soundly 'tis
seldom they snore.
I love to observe them partaking of
And if they are somewhat deficient in
It's only a matter of years—let us
A couple of hundred would answer
Before they awake to the fact which
they've blinked,
That ‘though still extant they are
also extinct.
I love tuataras they make me feel
And if I don't harm them they'll do
me no harm,
But still I feel tempted to puncture
their peel,
With pins just to see if they really
are real.