No, it’s not another installment in the Alien vs Predator franchise. It’s a genuine question. Many animals in these categories seem like they can be classified as either. While the common idea of a reptile is a snake, the idea of an amphibian is associated with any animal that is found on land and in water. Not surprisingly, questions like “Are hippos amphibians” are one of the most highly searched questions on google. We will discuss amphibians vs reptiles.
On the other hand, animals like turtles are generally accepted as amphibians, while in reality, they are true reptiles. The whole idea of amphibians and reptiles is more nuanced than just the presence of scales or the ability to live on land and in water. Let’s look at some points of difference between Amphibians vs Reptiles. Read on to find out more about both amphibians vs reptiles in detail.
Amphibians are animal species that are known to have dual life where they can survive on both lands as well as in water. The skin of amphibians is porous in nature and it requires moisture. Amphibians lay eggs in the water and their young ones have gills that help them to survive in water. The baby species come to land only when it is fully matured, However, Talking about the reptiles, they are fully updated to live on dry land. These animal species are viviparous in nature and breathe through their lungs. The scales on the body of the reptiles will help them to retain moisture and even protect them from predators.
The two common things between reptiles and amphibians, one is that they are ectothermic which means they are cold-blooded and the second one is that both species need external sources of heat which means they both are thermoregulation. Both reptiles and amphibians are listed under the same class Reptilia and hence that is the reason they share many anatomical and physiological features in common.
Amphibians vs Reptiles
1. Physical Characteristics
The most notable difference between amphibians and reptiles is in the structure of the skin. While reptiles have thick scaly skin, amphibians have thin soft, smooth, and wet skin. This is because they need to breathe through the skin. The name amphibian comes from the Greek words ‘Amphi’ meaning both and ‘bios’ meaning life, i.e., animals that live both on land and water. The word reptile means ‘creepers’, so animals that creep along the ground. Obviously, the name fits more to the most common reptiles like snakes and lizards only.
Reptiles are known to have a four-chambered heart in which two are arteries and the other two are ventricles, However, Amphibians have three three-chambered hearts. The other physical characteristic between amphibians and reptiles is that reptiles can understand and clear difference between colors whereas Amphibians cannot distinguish between colors because they are adapted to narrow bands of the color spectrum.
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One interesting fact about them is that both of these animals eat until their digestive tracts are full irrespective of their calorie requirements. So, pet animals who do not get much exercise, generally get obese as they keep on eating high-density food regularly without taking into account their calorie needs. While both amphibians and reptiles eat a generally carnivorous or insectivorous diet, amphibians have some restraints owing to their size.
Amphibians are known to eat anything moving that they can. This mostly includes insects and worms, but some species are also known to eat fruits and aquatic plants. Reptiles are generally carnivores. However, some main herbivore groups are also present. Turtles have evolved to be herbivores. Many iguanas, which are also in the reptile family have evolved to be herbivores.
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3. Defence Mechanisms
The defense mechanism of reptiles is well known. The snakes have deadly venom, some so deadly they don’t even need it to be so strong. Chameleons have well-developed camouflage and crocodiles are…well, invincible. Reptiles are also often noted to produce vibratory motion or sound if threatened. Chameleons display the bright color of the frill and vibrate it. Snakes also whip their tails and produce hissing sounds.
Shedding of the tail is also a common trait of some lizards. The wiggling movement of the tail after shedding deceives the predator into thinking it still holds the prey. Likewise, the defense mechanism in amphibians has developed but they are more suited to their habitat and body structure. They don’t have thick skin armor or big crocodilian jaws. Rather their skin is soft and thin. The means they have developed is toxic secretion on the skin. These secretions are also often sticky or slippery aimed at either harming or escaping the predator.
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4. Human Culture
Reptiles have become a very focused part of human culture, especially considering that dinosaurs were reptiles. Snakes are also given a place in many Biblical and Eastern Mythologies. While Western Myths liken snakes to a villain, eastern cultures portray them as a benefactor. Turtles are also depicted in many ancient myths from around the world as carrying the world on their backs.
Amphibians do not get such major attention from humans, neither in modern times nor in ancient history. Perhaps because they are not as big as reptiles and are also restricted to the vicinity of water bodies.
Both reptiles and amphibians inhabit all the continents of the world except probably Antarctica. Although huge variations are seen within the same group too. For example, consider python and cobras. Or perhaps Frogs and salamanders. Reptiles live both on land in dry deserts, as well as in tropical rainforests and swamps and inside water. Amphibians on the other hand have to keep themselves moist and thus have to live close to water. However, they do inhabit a far more diverse range of water bodies than reptiles because of their ability to breathe underwater.
Amphibians love to thrive in the variety of upland microhabitats that includes leaf litter, woody material, small mammal burrows, and boulders and cracks in rocks, However, reptiles require will look for shelters that have adequate sunlight and also have basking areas in the sun.
Reptiles lay an amniotic egg that is pre-fertilized in the body itself. Amniotic means the egg has a tough covering and is not meant for external fertilization. Reptiles mate through an organ called the cloaca. Different species have different organ structures. Some hide it internally except for when they need it for reproduction, others don’t have any specific part. One interesting aspect is temperature-dependent sex determination. It is known to occur in turtles and crocodiles and lizards.
For amphibians, both internal and external fertilization is common. In frogs, both internal and external fertilization takes place, and this varies from species to species. The common frogs lay eggs in water which has a gel-like coating. They almost always need fresh water for this, and no amphibians are suited to marine life. The male then deposits sperm on them. The eggs develop into tadpoles in water only. However, some species have developed means of laying eggs on land and keeping them moist. Others yet have developed shortcuts for adult frogs by making the tadpole phase happen within the egg only.
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7. Body Shape
The body structures of amphibians and reptiles are different from each other from the point of their birth, although they may grow up to be somewhat similar in later life. The amphibians are born underwater and that is why they have gills only during the initial phase of their life. When they hatch underwater, they are only like larvae, with no legs but with streamlined bodies for smooth swimming. As they grow, they go through a phase of metamorphosis where they develop lungs and legs, and this is when they make appearances on land.
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Reptiles, on the other hand, lay their eggs on land in dry conditions. They have thick scaly skin. Even though animals like turtles seem like they don’t have scales, they in fact do have scales. Reptiles have four legs with the exception of snakes. Reptiles do not have any gills. So animals like turtles and crocodiles, even though they spend a lot of time in the water, can only breathe through their lungs and have to come to the surface to do so.
These are the facts you need to about amphibians vs reptiles in the world. Kindly share and do post your comments.