October 21, 2011 - Reptile Awareness Day

People who love reptiles ask everybody to give these creatures a good hard look every year. You can do your part by exploring reptiles “in the flesh” by going to a zoo or pet store (is there a Prehistoric Pets store in your area? ...they specialize in reptiles!), or through books or videos.

Here is a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” episode on reptiles.  (There are three parts, totaling around 20 or 30 minutes.)

Here is BBC's Life, with David Attenborough, about reptiles and amphibians. (This is about an hour long.) 

Were dinosaurs reptiles? And are birds dinosaurs? Wait, birds can't be reptiles...Or can they?

According to several sources I consulted, there is evidence that some dinosaurs, at least, were warm-blooded. People used to define reptiles partly by the fact that they are cold-blooded... but that is no longer part of the description of reptiles.

A new system of classification states that reptiles include turtles, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and tuataras, and dinosaurs. In this system, birds are considered a subset of dinosaurs...so they are a subset of the reptile group. Here is a pretty easy-to-understand article about birds being one sort of reptiles.

On the other hand, at least one classification system say that dinosaurs and birds are not in the reptile group. In this system, it would be more correct to say that dinosaurs, including birds, evolved from reptiles.

Check out the Reptile Channel's page on Reptile Awareness Day.

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