Reptile Database

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The Reptile Database is a scientific database that collects taxonomic information on all living reptile species (i.e. no fossil species such as dinosaurs). The database focuses on species (as opposed to higher ranks such as families) and has entries for all currently recognized ~13,000 species [1] and their subspecies, although there is usually a lag time of up to a few months before newly described species become available online. The database collects scientific and common names, synonyms, literature references, distribution information, type information, etymology, and other taxonomically relevant information.

Database organized collection of data

A database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. Where databases are more complex they are often developed using formal design and modeling techniques.

Reptile class of animals

Reptiles are tetrapod animals in the class Reptilia, comprising today's turtles, crocodilians, snakes, amphisbaenians, lizards, tuatara, and their extinct relatives. The study of these traditional reptile orders, historically combined with that of modern amphibians, is called herpetology.

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined.



The database was founded in 1995 as EMBL Reptile Database [2] when the founder, Peter Uetz, was a graduate student at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. Thure Etzold had developed the first web interface for the EMBL DNA sequence database which was also used as interface for the Reptile Database. In 2006 the database moved to The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR) and briefly operated as TIGR Reptile Database [3] until TIGR was merged into the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) where Uetz was an associate professor until 2010. Since 2010 the database has been maintained on servers in the Czech Republic under the supervision of Peter Uetz and Jirí Hošek, a Czech programmer. [4]

European Molecular Biology Laboratory molecular biology research institution

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a molecular biology research institution supported by 25 member states, four prospect and two associate member states. EMBL was created in 1974 and is an intergovernmental organisation funded by public research money from its member states. Research at EMBL is conducted by approximately 85 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. The list of independent groups at EMBL can be found at The Laboratory operates from six sites: the main laboratory in Heidelberg, and outstations in Hinxton, Grenoble (France), Hamburg (Germany), Rome (Italy) and Barcelona (Spain). EMBL groups and laboratories perform basic research in molecular biology and molecular medicine as well as training for scientists, students and visitors. The organization aids in the development of services, new instruments and methods, and technology in its member states. Israel is the only full member state located outside Europe

J. Craig Venter Institute research institute

The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) is a non-profit genomics research institute founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D. in October 2006. The Institute was the result of consolidating four organizations: the Center for the Advancement of Genomics, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives, and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation Joint Technology Center. It has facilities in Rockville, Maryland and La Jolla, California.


Number of reptile genera with a given number of species. Most genera have only one or a few species but a few may have hundreds. Based on data from the Reptile Database (as of May 2015). Number of reptile genera with a given number of species.png
Number of reptile genera with a given number of species. Most genera have only one or a few species but a few may have hundreds. Based on data from the Reptile Database (as of May 2015).

As of March 2018, the Reptile Database lists about 10,700 species (including another ~2,800 subspecies) in about 1180 genera (see figure), and has about 45,000 literature references and about 11,000 photos. The database has constantly grown since its inception with an average of ~120 new species described per year over the preceding decade. [5]

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Relationship to other databases

The Reptile Database has been a member of the Species 2000 project that has produced the Catalogue of Life (CoL), a meta-database of more than 150 species databases that catalog all living species on the planet. [6] The CoL provides taxonomic information to the Encyclopedia of Life (EoL). The Reptile Database also collaborates with the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), the citizen science project iNaturalist, [7] and has links to the IUCN Redlist database. The NCBI taxonomy database links out to the Reptile Database.

Species 2000 is a federation of database organizations across the world that compiles the Catalogue of Life, a comprehensive checklist of the world's species, in partnership with the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). The creation of Species 2000 was initiated by Frank Bisby and colleagues at the University of Reading in the UK in 1997 and the Catalogue of Life was first published in 2001. While administrators and member organizations of Species 2000 are located across the world, the secretariat is located at the University of Reading.

Catalogue of Life Online database and index of taxa

The Catalogue of Life is an online database that provides the world's most comprehensive and authoritative index of known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. It was created in 2001 as a partnership between the global Species 2000 and the American Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The Catalogue interface is available in twelve languages and is used by research scientists, citizen scientists, educators, and policy makers. The Catalogue is also used by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Barcode of Life Data System, Encyclopedia of Life, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The Catalogue currently compiles data from 168 peer-reviewed taxonomic databases, that are maintained by specialist institutions around the world. As of 2019, the Catalogue lists 1,837,565 of the world's 2.2m extant species known to taxonomists on the planet at present time.

<i>Encyclopedia of Life</i> Free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all living species

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world. It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. In addition, the Encyclopedia incorporates content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which digitizes millions of pages of printed literature from the world's major natural history libraries. The project was initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, who provided US$20 million and US$5 million, respectively. The additional US$25 million came from five cornerstone institutions—the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution. The project was initially led by Jim Edwards and the development team by David Patterson. Today, participating institutions and individual donors continue to support EOL through financial contributions.

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John Edward Gray British zoologist and philatelist

John Edward Gray, FRS was a British zoologist. He was the elder brother of zoologist George Robert Gray and son of the pharmacologist and botanist Samuel Frederick Gray (1766–1828). The standard author abbreviation J.E.Gray is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name. The same is used for a zoological name.

Integrated Taxonomic Information System Authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) is an American partnership of federal agencies designed to provide consistent and reliable information on the taxonomy of biological species. ITIS was originally formed in 1996 as an interagency group within the US federal government, involving several US federal agencies, and has now become an international body, with Canadian and Mexican government agencies participating. The database draws from a large community of taxonomic experts. Primary content staff are housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and IT services are provided by a US Geological Survey facility in Denver. The primary focus of ITIS is North American species, but many biological groups exist worldwide and ITIS collaborates with other agencies to increase its global coverage.

Taipan genus of reptiles

Taipans are snakes of the genus Oxyuranus in the elapid family. They are large, fast-moving, highly venomous, and endemic to Australasia. There are currently three recognised species, one of which, the coastal taipan, has two subspecies. Taipans are considered some of the deadliest known snakes.

George Albert Boulenger Belgian-British zoologist

George Albert Boulenger was a Belgian-British zoologist who described and gave scientific names to over 2,000 new animal species, chiefly fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Boulenger was also an active botanist during the last 30 years of his life, especially in the study of roses.

Albert Günther Anglo-German zoologist

Albert Karl Ludwig Gotthilf Günther FRS, also Albert Charles Lewis Gotthilf Günther, was a German-born British zoologist, ichthyologist, and herpetologist. Günther is ranked the second-most productive reptile taxonomist with more than 340 reptile species described.

<i>Cylindrophis</i> Family of non-venomous snakes

The Cylindrophiidae are a monotypic family of secretive, semifossorial, non-venomous snakes containing the genus Cylindrophis found in southeastern Asia. These are burrowing snakes and most have a banded pattern on the belly. Currently, thirteen species are recognized, with no subspecies. Common names include Asian pipe snakes or Asian cylinder snakes.

The Sindh thread snake is a species of harmless blind snake in the family Leptotyphlopidae. The species is endemic to India and the Middle East.

Calliophis melanurus, commonly known as the slender coral snake, is a species of venomous elapid snake endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Two subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies.

<i>Hydrophis</i> genus of reptiles (most venomous snake)

Hydrophis is a genus of sea snakes. They are typically found in Indo-Australian and Southeast Asian waters. Currently, around 36 species are recognized.

<i>Rhinophis</i> genus of reptiles

Rhinophis is a genus of nonvenomous shield tail snakes found in Sri Lanka and South India. Currently, 19 species are recognized in this genus. Of the 19 species, 15 are endemic to Sri Lanka, while 4 are endemic to South India.

<i>Siebenrockiella</i> genus of reptiles

Siebenrockiella is a small genus of black marsh turtles. It used to be monotypic but now has two species with the addition of the Philippine forest turtle. The genus was originally erected in 1869 by John Edward Gray under the name Bellia, commemorating Thomas Bell, but this name is a junior homonym of Bellia Milne-Edwards, 1848, a crustacean genus. The replacement name, Siebenrockiella, was published in 1929 by Wassili Adolfovitch Lindholm, and commemorates Friedrich Siebenrock.

Alethinophidia infraorder of reptiles

The Alethinophidia are an infraorder of snakes that includes all snakes other than blind snakes and thread snakes. Snakes have long been grouped into families within Alethinophidia based on their morphology, especially that of their teeth. More modern phylogenetic hypotheses using genetic data support the recognition of 19 extant families, although the taxonomy of alethinophidian snakes has long been debated, and ultimately the decision whether to assign a particular clade to a particular Linnaean rank is arbitrary.

Assam leaf turtle species of reptile

The Assam leaf turtle is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae. The species is endemic to India and Bangladesh.

Myanmar brown leaf turtle species of reptile

The Myanmar brown leaf turtle is a species of Asian leaf turtle found in Myanmar.

<i>Kentropyx calcarata</i> species of reptile

Kentropyx calcarata, commonly known as the striped forest whiptail, is a species of lizard endemic to South America.

The Apalachicola snapping turtle is a proposed species that lives in the Apalachicola River, United States. It has traditionally been included as part of the widespread species M. temminckii, but an analysis in 2014 recommended treating it as distinct. A study published the following year considered this change unwarranted and recommended that M. apalachicolae should be considered a junior synonym of M. temminckii, and this is followed by the Reptile Database, IUCN's Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, and the Committee On Standard English And Scientific Names.

Lerista eupoda is a species of lizard from the genus Lerista of the family Scincidae, described by Smith in 1996. According to Catalogue of Life Lerista eupoda do not have known subspecies.

Sphenomorphus annectens is a species of lizard in the genus Sphenomorphus of the family Scincidae, described by Boulenger in 1897. According to Catalogue of Life Sphenomorphus annectens does not have known subspecies.

<i>Teratoscincus scincus</i> species of reptile

Teratoscincus scincus, commonly referred to as the common wonder gecko or the frog-eyed gecko, is a species of lizard in the family Sphaerodactylidae. The species is native to arid parts of Asia and has special adaptations which suit it to desert life.


The Colubroides are a clade in the suborder Serpentes (snakes). It contains over 85% of all the extant species of snakes. The largest family is Colubridae, but it also includes at least six other families, at least four of which were once classified as "Colubridae" before molecular phylogenetics helped us understand their relationships. It has been found to be monophyletic.


  1. Uetz, Peter; Stylianou, Alexandrea (2018). "The original descriptions of reptiles and their subspecies". Zootaxa. 4375: 257–264.
  2. Uetz, P. & Etzold, T. (1996). "The EMBL/EBI Reptile Database". Herpetological Review. 27 (4): 174–175.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. Uetz, P., J. Goll & J. Hallermann (2007). "Die TIGR-Reptiliendatenbank". Elaphe. 15 (3): 22–25.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. Abraham, S.A. (Jan 9, 2015). "VCU professor manages comprehensive database to map reptilian lineage". Across the Spectrum. Virginia Commonwealth University.
  5. Uetz, P. (2010). "The original descriptions of reptiles" (PDF). Zootaxa (2334): 59–68.
  6. Catalogue of Life Source databases, accessed Aug 2015