When people think about reptiles, they usually think about big snakes or a giant lizard walking slowly. Did you know that turtles are reptiles, too? There’s a lot of misconception about reptiles, partly due to how they are represented in various media. Some reptile species are being mistaken to be a part of the amphibians and vice versa. In this article, the ten main characteristics of reptiles will be featured.
What is a reptile?
A reptile is an animal that belongs to class Reptilia under the Chordata phylum. As of now, there are over 8,700 reptilian species discovered worldwide. According to the World Atlas, the first-ever reptile evolved 320 million years ago. Later on, these organisms adapted living on dry land. Reptiles learned to survive in their new surroundings by developing numerous defense mechanisms like biting, camouflage, and smartly avoiding dangers.
The reptilian class is one of the most diverse organisms on Earth. You can find them in the land habitats, on trees, and even on water. There are some reptile species such as crocodiles that are closely related to birds, showing how the two classes diverged from the same species years ago.
10 characteristics of reptiles
1. Covered with scales (or scutes)
One of the most notable characteristics of reptiles is their scales which covers all their body. This outmost layer acts as a skin and is made out of protein keratin. Instead of scales, turtles have shells called scutes, which is unique because it also composed of bones. Scales and scutes serve both as protection and help in the preservation of water in a reptile’s body.
2. There are four types
As of now, there are four main types of reptiles existing in the wild.
- Turtles – first appeared 200 million years ago. Their main feature is their protective shell called the carapace.
- Squamata – this type includes species of lizards and snakes. Squamata is the largest order of reptiles existing right now.
- Crocodilians – consists of crocodiles and alligators. Crocodilians are an extremely ancient lineage of reptiles, in which only 23 species are remaining.
- Tuatara – reptile group that consists of lizards endemic to New Zealand. These reptiles are part of the Rhynchocephalia order and grow up to 80 cm from head to tail-tip.
3. Cold-blooded animals
Reptiles, similar to amphibians, are called ectothermic or cold-blooded animals. It doesn’t mean that reptiles and amphibians have freezing blood inside their body. Instead, these species cannot produce their body heat and relies a lot on outside factors to control their temperature. When a drastic change of temperature happens, this can become problematic to reptilian and amphibian species.
4. Egg-laying organisms
The majority of reptiles are amniotes or species that develop inside an egg during its embryo stage. Fertilization can take place internally or externally. A very small minority of reptiles are viviparous or species that give birth to the offsprings. Most viviparous reptiles are snakes and lizards, such as the antenatal anaconda and Jackson’s chameleon.
5. Some reptiles can go into “brumation.”
Brumation refers to the state of cold-blooded animals, similar to hibernation. This happens when the weather is very cold, and the animal needs to conserve body heat and energy as much as possible for survival. There are several factors on how long a reptile will undergo hibernation, such as its size and its location. Reptiles in captivity can also undergo brumation if the external conditions alls for it.
6. Most have four limbs
Since reptiles are descendants of a four-limbed ancestor (in other words, an extinct dinosaur), the newer generations got to keep their legs. There are exceptions to this rule, as most snakes don’t evolve with four limbs. According to National Geographic, earlier species of snakes used to have limbs, but its modern counterpart evolved without them. The gene for limb regrowth is still in some snakes species.
7. Reptiles are vertebrates
Being a part of the group of species with vertebrates, reptiles have similar characteristics with mammals, birds, and some amphibians. An example of this is the existence of a spinal cord and an endoskeleton with cranium and limb girdles. This endoskeleton serves both as a protective body part, as well as an aid for locomotion.
8. Variation of respiration among species
Like any organism, reptiles need oxygen in their body to function and survive. And like mammals and amphibians, reptiles use a respiratory system for harnessing oxygen in the air or water. However, some reptilian respiratory system has some quirks to function properly. There are lizard species that “gulps” air instead of breathing, while crocodiles need to move their liver down to breath. And Scientists still have no idea how the turtles’ respiratory system works.
9. Reptiles can change their colors.
Since the beginning of their existence, reptiles have been known to use camouflage to survive. There are animals like the chameleons who change their appearances to blend with the environment. Meanwhile, scarlet kingsnake mimics the color of other more dangerous animals like the coral snake, even if these species are harmless.
10. Reptiles have diverse morphology
Reptiles have one of the most diverse morphologies in the animal kingdom. Unlike other animals, reptiles have different shapes and body characteristics. From a limbless snake to lizards that can separate their tails, all species of this class have some variances among each other. And not all morphologies are great-looking (see Cantor’s giant softshell or the pig-nosed turtle).
What are the 5 characteristics of reptiles?
- of 05. Reptiles Are Four-Legged Vertebrate Animals.
- of 05. Most Reptiles Lay Eggs.
- of 05. The Skin of Reptiles Is Covered With Scales (or Scutes)
- of 05. Reptiles Have Cold-Blooded Metabolisms.
- of 05. Reptiles Breathe With the Aid of Lungs.
What are the main features of reptiles?
How do you describe a reptile?
What is the characteristics of turtles and lizard?
What are the 7 main characteristics of reptiles?
- Reptiles are vertebrates. They have backbones.
- Their bodies are completely covered with scales.
- They are cold-blooded.
- Reptiles produce shelled eggs or bear live young.
- All species fertilize eggs internally.
- All species of reptiles have at least one lung.
What are the 4 types of reptiles?
What is biggest reptile?
What are the classifications of reptiles?
What are reptiles similarities and differences?
|They secrete toxins from their skin to protect themselves from predators.||The skin is protected by hard scales, and they also secrete toxin through teeth and nails.|
|Skin is smooth and highly porous.||Skin is dry, hard and scaly.|
What are the similarities between birds and reptiles?
What’s the similarities between reptiles and amphibians?
What are the similarities between mammals and reptiles?
Both mammals and reptiles have bilateral symmetry. Both mammals and reptiles are tetrapods, having four limbs. Both mammals and reptiles breathe through lungs. The respiratory system of both mammals and reptiles have a pharynx.