Any of the approximately 8,700 species of the class Reptilia, the group of air-breathing vertebrates that have internal fertilization and a scaly body and are cold-blooded. Most species have short legs (or none) and long tails, and most lay eggs. Living reptiles include the scaly reptiles (snakes and lizards; order Squamata), the crocodiles (Crocodylia), the turtles (Testudines), and the unique tuatara (Sphenodontida). Being cold-blooded, reptiles are not found in very cold regions; in regions with cold winters, they usually hibernate. They range in size from geckos that measure about 1 in. (3 cm) long to the python, which grows to 30 ft (9 m); the largest turtle, the marine leatherback, weighs about 1,500 lb (680 kg). Extinct reptiles include the dinosaurs, the pterosaurs, and the dolphinlike ichthyosaurs.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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