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The Reptilia is a disjunct group of pentadactyl tetrapod* vertebrates that are best diagnosed by what they do not possess. They do not possess slimy permiable skins so they are no Amphibians (also unlike amphibians, reptiles, birds and monotremes possess a cleidoic or amniotic egg, an egg with a protective shell containing an amniotic membrane which negates the requirement to return to water to reproduce).
They do not possess feathers and therefore are not Birds, nor fur which means they are not Mammals. All other pentadactyl tetrapod terrestrial vertebrates are lumped into the "Reptilia" even though they are not closely related. In fact Turtles and Tortoises are almost as far removed from other Reptiles as are the Mammal-like Reptiles which evolved into Modern Mammals, and Dinosaurs, Birds and Crocodilians are more closely related to each other, than Crocodilians are to Lizards and Snakes.
The Reptilia is what might be called a 'dustbin' taxa, a dumping ground for taxa whose relationships have not been fully determined, but for the purposes of these pages, the term Reptile will be used to include the Testudines (turtles and tortoises), Archosauria which contains the living Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators), and Lepidosauria which contains the living Rhynchocephalia (beaked reptiles) and Squamata (scaled reptiles).
* pentadactyl = five fingered/toed; tetrapod = four-legged, the basic terrestrial vertebrate blue-print although many groups have evolved towards digit or limb reduction or loss, ie. snakes.
The Reptilia, as so diagnosed, contains 73 extant (living) families** ie. Testudines = 14 families; Crocodylia = 3 families; Rhynchocephalia = 1 family, and Squamata = 55 familes. The O'Shea photo library contains representatives from 13, 3, 1 and 43 families respectively, as indicated by the X in the third columns below.
** authorites differ greatly with regards to the higher taxonomy, within the Squamata especially, so this figure represents only one school of phylogenetic thought.
Click on the family name below to view which species are represented in the photo library.
It will be some time before all families are listed on this site.
TESTUDINES SHELLED REPTILES
Chelydridae Snapping Turtles
Carettochelyidae Fly River Turtle
ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLE Macrochelys temmincki
Black Bayou, Louisiana
Carettochelys insculpta Southern New Guinea
Simone Creek, Rupununi River, Guyana