Vol 5 World of Reptiles ... Introduction ... Reptile evolution
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Introduction

Reptile evolution

The first reptile appeared on Earth about 315 million years ago, 65 million years before the dinosaurs!
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It is known that reptiles evolved from amphibians some 315 million years ago. One of the earliest reptiles was called Hylonomus - a 12 inch long lizard-like creature with spiky teeth that may have eaten insects. Although the dinosaurs lived between around 250 and 65 million years ago these were not the only types of reptile at that time. Indeed, some 16 different orders of reptiles have been classified since they first evolved, of which only two (called the Saurischia and Ornithischia) were dinosaurs. Of the rest, four are still in existence today (crocodiles, lizards and snakes, turtles and tortoises and the tuatara).

At the time of the dinosaurs, other groups of reptiles also lived on earth. These included the sea-dwelling ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, turtles and mosasaurs, the flying pterosaurs and the land living snakes, lizards and crocodiles.

It is not known why the dinosaurs died out, although a combination of circumstances including climate changes and the evolution of other animal forms like the mammals which competed more successfully for available food sources were probably involved.