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What are the main characteristics of the Class Reptilia?

What particular
features was one of the most significant contributors to their success as a
group?

A reptile, according to Microsoft Encarta, is an animal with a tough, dry skin covered with horny scales.
Some of the most wide spread living reptiles are turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and alligator. It is said
that reptiles (according to a newsletter from the website Petwise.com) started evolving around 330 million
years ago and developed many abilities. They are considered as the first animals on land with the ability
to live and multiply on land, with the help of their amniotic eggs. But today, only a few orders of reptiles
remain on this planet and they belong to the class Reptilia and are classified into four orders.
Reptiles are vertebrates (with a backbone), which can breathe air and are cold blooded (cannot regulate
body temperature). They are considered as tetrapods (with four legs or leg-like appendages), even though
legs are absent in some of these animals, like snakes. They share the characteristics of both amphibians
and mammals, but are different and unique. For example, the skin of reptiles is unique in the sense that it
lacks feathers, as in the case of birds; it does not have hair, like that of mammals and it is not moist as in
amphibians. Reptiles have dry skin with scales or scutes. The skin has a few cutaneous glands and high
levels of keratin, which prevents water loss through the skin. The scales and scutes are formed from the
epidermis and are also made of keratin, to protect the body. Reptiles are considered as tetrapods with two
sets of paired limbs. Most of these animals have five clawed toes on each limb which are adapted for
climbing, running, or paddling. These muscular appendages are angled downward to facilitate faster
locomotion. In some reptiles such as snakes, the legs are absent.
Reptiles have a digestive system, which is similar to other vertebrates, but the gut, the ducts of urinary
and sexual organs lead to one posterior chamber, called the ‘cloaca’, which has a muscular opening at the
base of the tail. In case of reptiles inhabiting arid regions, water is further absorbed into the body from the
waste in the cloaca and only the remaining waste is excreted.
For their excretory system, reptiles have a metanephric kidney (paired); with uric acid as the main
nitrogenous waste.
Respiration in reptiles occurs by lung; no gills; the cloaca is used for respiration by some; bronchial
arches in embryonic life. Most have two lungs, however, it is said that snakes have lost their left lungs
over the course of evolution. All reptiles, except crocodiles (which have a four-chambered heart) have
three-chambered hearts.
Like all vertebrates, reptiles have a central nervous system and a well-developed brain with optic lobes on
the dorsal side of the brain; 12 cranial nerves in addition to nervus terminalis.
Reptiles have separate sexes. They have some form of copulatory organ, permitting internal fertilization.
Internal fertilization is obviously a requirement for a shelled egg, because sperm must reach the egg
before the egg is enclosed. Sperms form in the vasa deferentia to a copulatory, which is an evagination of

The female system consists of ovaries and oviducts. This ability to lay egg on land can be considered the most significant contributor to their success as a group. Glandular walls of the oviducts secrete albumin and shells for the large eggs. birds and mammals. The lineage containing reptiles. unshackled the early reptiles from the aquatic environment by freeing the developmental process from the dependence upon aquatic or very moist terrestrial environments. This ends the main characteristics of the class reptilia. .the cloacal wall. Their shelled egg. (as stated in the text Animal Diversity) developed an egg that could be laid on land. perhaps more than any other adaptation.