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Why do reptiles have scales?

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Reptile, animal with tough, dry skin covered with horny scales. Some of the most widespread living reptiles are turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and alligators. Reptiles are vertebrates—animals that have a backbone. While they share characteristics common to other vertebrates—fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals—reptiles display a unique combination of characteristics that distinguishes them from other vertebrates. Like amphibians, modern reptiles are cold-blooded, or ectothermic. This means that they are unable to produce their own body heat, so they rely on the sun for warmth, and much of their behavior is directed toward regulating their body temperature. Like birds, most reptiles hatch from eggs that are laid on land, covered by a protective shell. Reptiles breathe air with lungs, as do most mature amphibians and all birds and mammals. And like amphibians and mammals, most reptiles, with the exception of turtles, have teeth. Reptile skin, with its tough, horny scales, is ... more
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