Overview

Brief Summary

The Squamata, or the scaled reptiles, are the largest recent order of reptiles, comprising all lizards and snakes. With over 9,000 species, it is the second-largest order of vertebrates after the perciform fish. Members of the order are distinguished by their skins, which bear horny scales or shields. They also possess movable quadrate bones, making it possible to move the upper jaw relative to the braincase. This is particularly visible in snakes, which are able to open their mouths very wide to accommodate comparatively large prey. They are the most variably sized order of reptiles, ranging from the 16 mm (0.63 in) dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) to the 6.6 m (22 ft) green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) and the now-extinct mosasaurs, which reached lengths of 14 m (46 ft).

Among the other reptiles, squamates are most closely related to tuataras, which superficially resemble lizards.

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Ecology

Associations

Known predators

Squamata is prey of:
Gasterosteus
Cyprinidae
Cottus
Prosopium
Salvelinus
Lota

Based on studies in:
USA: Maine (Lake or pond)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • J. L. Brooks and E. S. Deevey, New England. In: Limnology in North America, D. G. Frey, Ed. (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1963), pp. 117-162, from p. 143.
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Known prey organisms

  • J. L. Brooks and E. S. Deevey, New England. In: Limnology in North America, D. G. Frey, Ed. (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1963), pp. 117-162, from p. 143.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Tail shedding protects from predators: lizard
 

The tail of a lizard helps it escape predators by breaking off at one of the cartilaginous fracture planes within its caudal vertebrae.

     
  "The shedding of tails, and sometimes other limbs too, is not uncommon in the natural world. Autotomy, as scientists call it, is a clever means of getting away from predators, which are literally left holding a part of the intended victim's body. Not only is the victim able to survive the incident, it is able to replace the lost body part. Species from no less than 11 of the 16 classified families of lizard shed their tails in this way. The secret of the process lies in the structure of a typical lizard's tail. Each of its caudal vertebrae from the sixth onward contains a weak horizontal 'break' or fracture plane, which is made of cartilage instead of bone and will snap easily if held. Also, within each vertebra's fracture plane the blood vessels and nerves are constricted, so that if the tail does snap off, blood loss will be minimal." (Shuker 2001:131)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:10872
Specimens with Sequences:9690
Specimens with Barcodes:7780
Species:2014
Species With Barcodes:1639
Public Records:6161
Public Species:766
Public BINs:1787
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Barcode data

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