Reptiles are animals that belong to the class Reptilia. This includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials as well as snakes, lizards, tuatara and turtles.
Some can have their sex determined by an ultrasound, which is not painful for the animal. For others, photographic identification is the best way to determine their sex.
Komodo dragons stomp like dinosaurs in the remote equatorial hills of their namesake island in Indonesia. Their rough, durable skin is reinforced with osteoderms (bony plates) that help them retain heat during cooler periods and disperse excess heat when temperatures rise.
These opportunistic carnivores can smell carcasses up to 5 miles away. Their saliva contains several strains of virulent bacteria that cause untreated bite wounds to quickly become septic. Researchers have found that komodo dragons are also equipped with venom glands in their lower jaws that can inject lethal poison into prey. They rake their teeth through their prey’s flesh, delivering the poison that lowers blood pressure and impairs clotting, leading to blood loss and shock.
While komodo dragons can grow to 3 meters long, they are not as powerful as their shark-like teeth would suggest. Animals that manage to escape a dragon’s jaws may only feel lucky for a short while; the reptile will calmly follow the corpse for miles, using its sense of smell to home in on the victim. The lizard then consumes the creature in one swoop, consuming as much as 80 percent of its body weight in a single feeding.
Leatherback Sea Turtle
The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest of all sea turtles. Its wide-ranging habitat stretches from Alaska to South Africa.
These pelagic turtles return to coastal areas to lay eggs and rear their offspring. The eggs are laid in holes, which are then covered by sand. In the past, these turtles were hunted for their meat, eggs and oil. They are listed as endangered internationally and as a species of special concern in the U.S. Their greatest threats include marine debris — plastic bags, balloons and other garbage that mistakenly resemble jellies (their favorite food) and when ingested, can block their throat, esophagus and intestines.
Warming climates also affect this species, causing beach erosion and raising the sand temperature, which can be lethal to eggs or alter the ratio of male and female hatchlings. They are also vulnerable to poaching, and their nesting beaches have been disrupted by construction activities and artificial lights from beach resorts. The newest hatchlings are often confused by these lights and crawl toward them instead of the sea and are thus more likely to die.
The Spectacled Caiman is a medium-sized crocodilian in the family Alligatoridae. This species is found in Central and South America and lives in freshwater habitats such as seasonally flooded savannahs, rivers and rainforest. They typically hunt at night and feed on fish, amphibians and reptiles. This crocodilian has a dull olive green colouration that helps them camouflage well in their natural habitats. The spectacled caiman also has sensory organs on its skin and snout that help them detect changes in temperature, touch and chemicals in the environment.
This crocodilian can reach up to 2.5 metres (8 feet) in length. They have long teeth that they use to catch their prey and they swallow it whole. They have an extraordinary sense of smell as they have a special organ in their snout that allows them to smell up to 15 feet away.
Spectacled Caimans are oviparous and they lay between 20 – 40 eggs. The females build nests of mud and decomposing vegetation to insulate the eggs from extreme temperature changes. They also guard the eggs once they are hatched.
The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) is a lizard with spiky spines over its entire body. These spines serve several purposes, including making the lizard look fearsome to predators and helping it collect water by keeping it in its skin. It is a member of the order Reptilla, which includes all snakes and lizards.
This lizard is endemic to Australia, where it can be found in arid regions of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. Its habitat consists of sandy deserts and scrub with loose, sandy soils. These lizards are solitary and walk with a distinctive slow, halting gait.
To protect itself from predators, this lizard can change its color to blend in with its environment, and it can also inflate its chest with air to make it harder for a predator to swallow it. It is a specialist ant eater, consuming species of the genera Iridomyrmex and Crematogaster. It typically eats by observing an ant trail and then lapping up the ants with its tongue. It can eat thousands of ants in a day!
Birds have evolved to inhabit nearly every part of the world and a wide range of habitats. From the Arctic circle’s snowy owls to the Antarctic penguins, birds can be found in forests, grasslands, cities, deserts, and oceans. They have large brains, sharp senses, and the ability to communicate with a variety of vocal and non-vocal means, including squeaks, warbles, trills, singing, gurgles, rattles, and whistles.
All birds are warm-blooded, bipedal (two-footed), air-breathing vertebrates that lay eggs. They are also the only vertebrates with wings and a beak. Most can fly and build nests to protect their eggs from weather and predators.
The earliest birdlike reptiles lived during the Jurassic period, 160 million years ago. These early creatures looked more like reptiles, with long tails, thirteen caudal vertebrae, and reptilian ribcages. They also had toothed beaks and clawed wings. Modern birds are classified in the subclass Neornithes, which includes extant and extinct species such as the Passenger Pigeon. These birds are characterized by short tails, wings, toothless beaks, and well-developed sternums. They also have high metabolisms and a four-chambered heart.