the difference between reptiles and amphibians

[EDIT: People keep finding this site by Googling ‘the difference between reptiles and amphibians’ This is the basic answer:

Amphibians are frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians.

Reptiles are snakes, tortoises, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, alligators and a few other oddities. Dinosaurs were reptiles.

Reptiles are more fully adapted to life on land than amphibians. The biggest difference is that amphibians typically need to return to the water to breed, because their eggs need to be kept wet. Reptile eggs have a tough outer shell that prevents them from drying up.

Amphibians [with a few minor exceptions] have a larval stage (i.e. tadpoles/polliwogs) when they breathe underwater through gills; when they become adult, they develop lungs and need to come to the air to breathe. Reptiles have lungs from the moment they leave the egg.

As a further adaptation to life on land, reptiles have scales. Amphibians have smooth skins, and many species need a fairly damp environment so they don’t lose too much water through their skin, although some are adapted to much dryer conditions.

Mammals and birds are evolved from reptiles. Reptiles are evolved from amphibians. correction: amphibians and reptiles evolved separately from an early tetrapod ancestor. Amphibians are evolved from fish.

I hope that helps, Google-people. END OF EDIT]

The first in an occasional series of things which are ‘Something Every Educated Person Should Know’.

When I was at university, as someone interested in science but doing a degree in English, I was frequently annoyed by the wilful ignorance of both academics and students on scientific topics. And I mean wilful – they took a coy, self-deprecating pride in not knowing about ‘those kind of things’. I just think there’s no excuse for taking pride in your ignorance about anything, whether it’s the Britney Spears back-catalogue, Slovakian dialling codes or the second law of thermodynamics.

Anyway, that’s when I started fantasising about writing a book called What Every Educated Person Should Know, which would just lay down the minimum that anyone ought to know who thinks of themselves as educated. Most of the things I thought of then were scientific; I can’t believe it doesn’t bother people that their understanding of how the universe works is often three hundred years out of date. But it would also cover literature, art, geography, politics and general knowledge of all kinds (I don’t claim to know everything, btw – a musician’s list of SEEPSKs would certainly catch me out – this is just a venue for my irritability).

So, SEEPSK #1. One of the presenters on Today this morning had to correct himself after a flood of emails about his reference to a salamander as a reptile. I think it was Edward Stourton, educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College Cambridge, and the man doesn’t know a reptile from an amphibian. Aargh!

19 Comments

  1. 27 February 2007 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    hi this a kid who want learn about animals he want be a scientest

  2. Harry
    27 February 2007 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Well, that’s an excellent ambition.

  3. Abonoa
    22 April 2007 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I needed to know the difference between reptiles and amphibians for mt vertebrate ttest and now I know the answer.

    – Thanks from the dumb kid

  4. Abonoa
    22 April 2007 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I needed to know the difference between reptiles and amphibians for my vertebrate test and now I know the answer.

    – Thanks from the dumb kid in 5th grade

  5. Harry
    23 April 2007 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Glad to help!

  6. 5 July 2007 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the information.it was really helpful and cleared my doubts..

  7. Harry
    5 July 2007 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Glad to help

  8. polly
    10 September 2007 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    that really didnt help me!!!

  9. Harry
    10 September 2007 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    *shrug*

  10. tired of reports
    4 November 2007 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    thanks i would have never got an a on my report:)

    from,stuck in 6th grade

  11. abbas
    7 February 2008 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    do the reptiles have vertibrate like amphibians do?

  12. fatboy
    29 February 2008 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    all you peeps are nerds

  13. Harry
    1 March 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  14. hsien
    7 April 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    thanks, really helped me whilst doing my assignment. any idea why the tadpole has a relatively long coiled intestine while the adult frog has a short intestine? it is cause the food differs from birth to adult stage right?

  15. April
    10 July 2008 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Thx!! That cleared up my curiousity

  16. Harry
    10 July 2008 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Glad I could help :)

  17. 9 November 2008 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    What?

  18. ashley
    10 February 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    i am working on this for a school project this website does not really say anything answers.com is a really really good wedsite

  19. ashley
    10 February 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    i need to know the difference between a reptill and amphibians

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