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Amphibians

There are three orders of amphibians. First, there are Anura amphibians. This order has about 5,800 different species within it and includes amphibians such as frogs and toads. Second, there are Caudata (or Urodela) amphibians. This second order contains 580 species, two examples of which are newts and salamanders. Third, there are the Gymnophiona or Apoda amphibians that include caecilians and approximately 170 species. Caecilians are amphibians that look like giant earthworms and mainly have habitats underground or under the water.

Amphibians are cold-blooded animals, or ectothermic. What this means is that they are unable to generate their own body heat when too cold or to cool down when too hot. Amphibians rely on their outside environment in order to regulate body temperature and require cooling systems or heat lamps to properly do this. Amphibians live all over the world and can be found on every single continent except for Antarctica. Since amphibians can be found in so many different places, it is no surprise that various amphibians inhabit a range of environments such as deserts or rainforests, rivers or streams, and even mountains. All amphibians are vertebrates and therefore have a spine, breath through their skin (rather than nostrils or mouth like humans), and go through a process known as metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the process by which amphibians change physically as they develop. Amphibians are hatched from eggs in a form that does not match the appearance of adult amphibians, but rather structurally change with age.

Amphibians fit right in the middle of the food chain as an important link, being the predator to some animals while the prey of others. One of the main food sources for amphibians is insects and bugs. By eating insects classified as pests specifically, amphibians can help to lower the spread of disease often carried by these bugs and also can assist agriculture and crops by protecting plants susceptible to these bugs.

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