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What is the difference between a reptile and an amphibian?

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topher01 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:05 AM via web

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What is the difference between a reptile and an amphibian?

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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:40 AM (Answer #1)

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Reptiles are cold-blooded animals.  They typically lay hard shelled eggs and have skin covered with scales or a bony external plate. They either have four legs or descended from four limber ancestors. Some examples of reptiles are: alligators, crocodiles, caimans, gavials, lizards, snakes, turtles, and tortoises. The science dealing with reptiles is called herpetology.

Amphibians are animals that can live on land or in water. They spend part of their lives under water breathing through gills and part of their lives on land breathing with lungs. Amphibians are characterized by glandular skin and no scales. Most amphibians lay eggs in the water.  Most have four legs but some have no legs. Some examples of amphibians are: frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted May 11, 2010 at 10:16 PM (Answer #2)

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As used in Biology and zoology, reptiles and amphibians refers to two different classes of animals. Reptiles are  animals that have dry, scaly skin and breathes by means of lungs.  There are about 6,500 species of reptiles, and they make up one of the classes of vertebrates.  Some of the major species of animal in in this class are alligators, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, turtles, and the tuatara.

Amphibians are animal with mostly scaleless skin that lives part of its life in water and part on land.  There are about 3,200 kinds of amphibians, and they make up one of the classes of vertebrates.  Some of the major species of animal in in this class are frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians.

Most amphibians hatch from eggs laid in water or moist ground, and begin life as animal living in water.  Through a process of metamorphosis, the larvae change into adults that look very different from the larvae. Most of the amphibians take to living on becoming adult, while some continue to live in water. Almost all return to water for reproduction.

It should be noted that general meaning of the word, which means 'living and operating on land as well as water' is not strictly applicable to the animal classification. For example, crocodiles are reptiles, yet they are capable of living in water as well as on land.

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 17, 2014 at 1:13 AM (Answer #6)

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A reptile is a cold-blooded vertebrate animal distinguished by having dry scaly skin, and typically laying soft-shelled eggs on land. Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrate animals distinguished by having an aquatic gill-breathing larval stage followed by a terrestrial lung-breathing adult stage. 

Examples of reptiles are:

  • snakes
  • lizards
  • crocodiles
  • turtles
  • tortoises 

Examples of amphibians are:

  • frogs
  • toads
  • newts
  • slamanders
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robinandoneal | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:12 AM (Answer #3)

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a reptile is an animal that usually lives on land and has scales instead of skin such as iguana. Amphibians are animals that can live on both land and water such as a frog and they have a soft skin instead of coarse scales like a reptile. hope this helps

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nusratfarah | Valedictorian

Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:28 AM (Answer #5)

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There are many structural and reproductive differences between reptiles and amphibians though both are vertebrates. Some sorts of reptiles are alligators, crocodiles, turtles, and snakes. And some amphibians are salamanders, toads, frogs etc.

One difference is between the structures of their skin. Reptiles are covered with scales, shields, or plates and their toes have claws. Amphibians, on the other hand, have wet, glandular skins, and their toes lack claws.

Another difference is between the eggs. Eggs of reptiles have a thick, solid covering that protects the developing embryo from moisture loss, even on dry land. In contrast, the eggs of amphibians lack a hard outer covering. For this, they must be laid in water or damp places. The eggs of a reptile have hard leathery shells which protect the young inside, and are often laid in buried, insulated nests. Amphibians lay soft eggs without an external covering, and the eggs are usually attached to the stems of aquatic plants.

Though, some reptile species can swim, they do not take to water as readily as amphibians do, and can be found in a wider range of locations. Reptiles also have more diverse body types, ranging from limbless snakes to giant dinosaurs, and they are primarily land animals.

When reptile eggs are hatched, the young look like miniature adults. As the young grow up, they will mature into scaly animals with fully developed lungs and dry skins. When an amphibian hatches, it initially emerges in the form or a tadpole, an aquatic larva which breathes through gills. Tadpoles cannot survive out of water, but, as they grow and mature, they get bigger, grow limbs, and lose their tails. Finally, they develop lungs and turn into mature amphibians, which will spend much of its life in and around the water.

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fact-finder | Valedictorian

Posted October 10, 2011 at 4:00 PM (Answer #1)

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There are several anatomical (pertaining to body structure) and reproductive differences between reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles include alligators, crocodiles, turtles, and snakes. Amphibians include salamanders, toads, and frogs.

One difference between the two is the structure of their outer skin. Reptiles are covered with scales, shields, or plates, and their toes have claws. Amphibians, on the other hand, have moist, glandular skins, and their toes lack claws.

The eggs of reptiles have a thick, hard shell that protects the developing embryo from moisture loss, even on dry land. In contrast, the eggs of amphibians lack a hard outer covering and, thus, must be laid in water or in damp places.

Finally, young reptiles are miniature replicas of their parents in general appearance, although not always in coloration and pattern. Juvenile amphibians, however, pass through a larval (wormlike), usually aquatic, stage before they metamorphose (change in form and structure) into the adult form.

Sources: Conant, Roger. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. 3rd updated ed., facing p. 1; Halliday, Tim R., ed. The Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, preface.

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