Squamata—Lizards and Snakes
Reptiles traditionally included, among others, turtles, crocodilians, and the snakes and lizards. As the higher taxonomy continues to address new data and new approaches, the traditional taxonomic class has been split to better show the evolutionary relationships. The turtles have been deemed to be distinctive enough to warrant a class by themselves (class Chelonia) as have the crocodilians (class Eusuchia), leaving only the lizards and snakes to represent the Reptilia in our region.
Although most people tend to think of lizards and snakes are very different, they are placed in the same taxonomic order (Squamata, the name referring to the scales characteristic of the order) in recognition of their close relationship. The feature that many would use to separate them, the lack of limbs, actually does not; some lizards are limbless (as are some amphibians). Separation is largely on the basis of some skull characteristics plus the great multiplication of vertebrae seen in the snakes as compared to the lizards.
Last Update: 31 Aug 2008