A Glossary of Herpetological Terms

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Towards the front, or towards the head of the animal.
carapace exampleThe carapace is the top part of the shell.
carapace smooth posterior margin exampleA smooth posterior margin of the carapace.
(Photo by J. Andrews)
carapace exampleA toothed posterior margin of the carapace.
(Photo by J. Andrews)
dorsolateral ridges:
dorsalateral ridges on wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)The presence or absence of a dorsolateral ridge can be very helpful in the identification of a frog. The ridge is a fold of skin beginning behind the eye and extending part or all of the way to the rear legs on both sides.
(Photo by E. Talmage)
a reptile or amphibian.
plastron exampleThe plastron is the underside of the shell.
(Photo by C. Fichtel)
Towards the back, or towards the tail of the animal.
scales, keeled or smooth:
keeled scales exampleKeeled scaled have a ridge along the centerline of the scale.
smooth scales exampleSmooth scales do not have a ridge.
(Photo by J. Andrews)
scutes exampleA single plate or scale on a turtle's shell.
Tympanum of male green frogTympanum of female green frogThe tympanum is the eardrum of a frog and in some species it can be seen very clearly. In the green-faced frogs the size of the tympanum relative to the eye can be used to determine the sex of the animal. The males have tympana that are noticeably larger than their eyes. The female’s tympana are about the same size as their eyes.
(Photo of male frog by E. Talmage; photo of female frog by J. Andrews)