Last updated: 20/01/2017 [Design & Pictures by Simons Nature]
Reptilia

Reptilia [Reptiles]

Reptiles are tetrapod (four-limbed vertebrate) animals in the class Reptilia, comprising today's turtles, crocodilians, snakes, amphisbaenians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives. The study of these traditional reptile orders, historically combined with that of modern amphibians, is called herpetology. Because some reptiles are more closely related to birds than they are to other reptiles (e.g., crocodiles are more closely related to birds than they are to lizards), the traditional groups of "reptiles" listed above do not together constitute a monophyletic grouping (or clade). For this reason, many modern scientists prefer to consider the birds part of Reptilia as well, thereby making Reptilia a monophyletic class.
The Crocodilia (or Crocodylia) are an order of mostly large, predatory, semiaquatic reptiles. They appeared 83.5 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period (Campanian stage) and are the closest living relatives of birds, as the two groups are the only known survivors of the Archosauria. Members of the order's total group, the clade Pseudosuchia, appeared about 250 million years ago in the Early Triassic period, and diversified during the Mesozoic era.
The order Squamata, or the scaled reptiles, are the largest recent order of reptiles, comprising all lizards and snakes. With over 10,000 species, it is also the second-largest order of extant vertebrates, after the perciform fish, and roughly equal in number to the Saurischia. Members of the order are distinguished by their skins, which bear horny scales or shields.
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines (or Chelonii) characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. "Turtle" may refer to the order as a whole (American English) or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines (British English). The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from 157 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 327 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.
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