Section 3

Modern Reptiles

• The order Chelonia, which includes turtles and tortoises, have a shell composed of bony plates. The vertebrae and ribs are fused to the interior surface of the shell.

• Members of the order Crocodilia are large aquatic or semiaquatic carnivores. They include crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gavials. A valve in the oral cavity of crocodilians covers the esophagus and windpipe while the mouth is submerged. This allows crocodilians to capture and swallow prey underwater.

• The order Squamata consists of lizards and snakes. Most lizards rely on speed, agility, and camouflage to elude predators. Some can detach their tail to distract predators.

• Some snakes kill their prey by constriction. Others kill their prey by injecting venom.

• The order Rhynchocephalia contains only the tuataras. Tuataras hide in burrows during the day and feed at night. The arrival of humans and new predators in New Zealand has reduced the number of tuataras.

Vocabulary carapace (p. 830) plastron (p. 830)

autotomy (p. 832) constrictor (p. 833)

elapid (p. 833) viper (p. 833)

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