A Side-by-Side Comparison of Reptiles and Amphibians

There are many differences between reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles are ectothermic, or “cold-blooded”, meaning that their internal body temperature varies with their surroundings. Amphibians are mostly terrestrial vertebrates that typically have an aquatic larval stage followed by a metamorphosis to an adult terrestrial form, but some species remain aquatic throughout their lives. Amphibians are generally found near water since they require it for reproduction. Reptiles live in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, and wetlands.

Reptiles are distinguished from amphibians by several features. One is the possession of dry, scaly skin that is impermeable to water. This adaptation helps reptiles to live in dry environments. Amphibians have moist, permeable skin that must be kept moist or they will desiccate and die. Most reptiles lay eggs with hard shells, although a few give birth to live young. Amphibians typically lay their eggs in water where they hatch into aquatic larvae.

There are about 10,000 species of reptiles, compared to about 6,000 amphibian species. Reptiles are a more ancient group than amphibians, appearing first in the fossil record about 315 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. Amphibians appeared later, during the Triassic period, about 240 million years ago. Although some reptiles are venomous, none are as toxic as some amphibians. The deadliest reptile is the inland taipan of Australia, whose venom can kill 100 adult humans. The most poisonous amphibian is the golden poison frog of Colombia, whose venom can kill 10 adult humans.

frog amphibian

Reptiles vs Amphibians

 

Ectothermic

Ectothermic, or “cold-blooded”, means that their internal body temperature varies with their surroundings. This adaptation helps reptiles to live in dry environments. Amphibians have moist, permeable skin that must be kept moist or they will desiccate and die.

 

Terrestrial Vertebrates

Most reptiles lay eggs with hard shells, although a few give birth to live young. Amphibians typically lay their eggs in water where they hatch into aquatic larvae. Reptiles are distinguished from amphibians by several features. One is the possession of dry, scaly skin that is impermeable to water. This adaptation helps reptiles to live in dry environments. Amphibians have moist, permeable skin that must be kept moist or they will desiccate and die.

 

Aquatic Larval Stage

Most reptiles lay eggs with hard shells, although a few give birth to live young. Amphibians typically lay their eggs in water where they hatch into aquatic larvae.

 

Metamorphosis to an Adult Terrestrial Form

Amphibians are mostly terrestrial vertebrates that typically have an aquatic larval stage followed by a metamorphosis to an adult terrestrial form, but some species remain aquatic throughout their lives. Amphibians are generally found near water since they require it for reproduction. Reptiles live in a wide variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, and wetlands.

 

Possess Dry, Scaly Skin

Reptiles are distinguished from amphibians by several features. One is the possession of dry, scaly skin that is impermeable to water. This adaptation helps reptiles to live in dry environments. Amphibians have moist, permeable skin that must be kept moist or they will desiccate and die.

 

Lay Eggs with Hard Shells

Most reptiles lay eggs with hard shells, although a few give birth to live young. Amphibians typically lay their eggs in water where they hatch into aquatic larvae.

reptile lizard

Appeared First in the Fossil Record

Reptiles appeared first in the fossil record about 315 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. Amphibians evolved from lobe-finned fishes about 375 million years ago and were the first vertebrates to colonize dry land.

 

Some Reptiles are Venomous

Although some reptiles are venomous, none are as toxic as some amphibians. The deadliest reptile is the inland taipan of Australia, whose venom can kill 100 adult humans. The most poisonous amphibian is the golden poison frog of Colombia, whose venom can kill 10 adult humans.

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