No matter how many times we head to one of New Zealand's offshore islands, the feelings are always a mix of sheer awe at the beauty and biodiversity preserved in these special refuges and lingering nerves. Did we remember all the gear? Do we have enough food and water in case we get stuck? Can the helicopter land on the side of a cliff in these winds? These epic journeys are in pursuit of a lone remnant of the reptile evolutionary tree, with a unique ecology that has big implications under climate change.

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Copyright © 2014 Sigma Xi Science Research Society. This article first appeared in American Scientist 102, no. 5 (September/October 2014): 350-357.

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