Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


in aviation: see seaplaneseaplane,
airplane designed to take off from and alight on water. The two most common types are the floatplane, whose fuselage is supported by struts attached to two or more pontoon floats, and the flying boat, whose boat-hull fuselage is constructed with the buoyancy and
..... Click the link for more information.


in zoology, cold-blooded vertebratevertebrate,
any animal having a backbone or spinal column. Verbrates can be traced back to the Silurian period. In the adults of nearly all forms the backbone consists of a series of vertebrae. All vertebrates belong to the subphylum Vertebrata of the phylum Chordata.
..... Click the link for more information.
 animal of the class Amphibia. There are three living orders of amphibians: the frogsfrog,
common name for an amphibian of the order Anura. Frogs are found all over the world, except in Antarctica. They require moisture and usually live in quiet freshwater or in the woods. Some frogs are highly aquatic, while others are better adapted to terrestrial habitats.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and toadstoad,
name applied to certain members of the amphibian order Anura, which also includes the frog. Although there is no clear-cut distinction between toads and frogs, the name toad
..... Click the link for more information.
 (order Anura, or Salientia), the salamanderssalamander,
an amphibian of the order Urodela, or Caudata. Salamanders have tails and small, weak limbs; superficially they resemble the unrelated lizards (which are reptiles), but they are easily distinguished by their lack of scales and claws, and by their moist, usually
..... Click the link for more information.
 and newtsnewt,
name for members of a large salamander family, widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere and including the common European salamanders. Newts are lizardlike in shape and are usually under 6 in. (15 cm) long including the slender tail.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (order Urodela, or Caudata), and the caecilianscaecilian
, any of the legless, tailless tropical amphibians belonging to the order Gymnophiona (or Apoda). Most adult caecilians resemble earthworms superficially but have vertebrate characteristics such as jaws and teeth.

Caecilians range in size from 7 in. to 4.
..... Click the link for more information.
, or limbless amphibians (order Gymnophiona, or Apoda), a little known tropical group. Amphibians, the most primitive of the terrestrial vertebrates, are intermediate in evolutionary position between the fishfish,
limbless aquatic vertebrate animal with fins and internal gills. Traditionally the living fish have been divided into three class: the primitive jawless fishes, or Agnatha; the cartilaginous (sharklike) fishes, or Chondrichthyes; and the bony fishes, or Osteichthyes.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and the reptilesreptile,
name for the dry-skinned, usually scaly, cold-blooded vertebrates (see Chordata) of the order Reptilia. Reptiles are found in a variety of habitats throughout the warm and temperate regions (except on some islands), with the greatest variety in the tropics.
..... Click the link for more information.

Typically amphibians undergo a metamorphosis from an aquatic, water-breathing, limbless larva (called a tadpole) to a terrestrial or partly terrestrial, air-breathing, four-legged adult. The eggs are usually deposited in water or in a protected place where their moisture will be conserved; they have neither shells nor the sets of membranes that surround the eggs of reptiles and other higher vertebrates. Some amphibians lay their eggs in dry places, and the young undergo the larval stage within the egg, emerging as small adults; in these the eggs have evolved various protective structures. Adult amphibians differ from reptiles in having moist skins, without scales or with small, hidden scales.

All living amphibians are specialized for their way of life, none representing the main amphibian stock from which the reptiles evolved. The salamanders and newts are superficially the most similar to ancestral amphibians, having long tails and front and hind legs of approximately equal size. Frogs and toads are highly modified for jumping, with large, muscular hind legs and no tails, while the caecilians have lost all external traces of limbs.


R. Carroll, The Rise of Amphibians (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a combat or transport motor vehicle that can move on land and on water (tank, carrier, automobile, airplane). (1) The amphibious tank and carrier can float because the hermetically sealed body displaces the necessary amount of water. It has a propeller engine, standard caterpillar treads (if it is a caterpillar vehicle), and water jets. The first amphibious tanks were designed during World War I. In 1921—22 amphibious tanks were produced in France and in America. In 1932 the Red Army was supplied with its first amphibious tank, the T-37, which was later replaced by the T-38 and T-40 (1940). The T-40 tank weighs 5.5 tons and has a two-man crew, two machine guns, bulletproof armored plate, and a maximum speed of 44 km an hour on land and 5 km an hour in water.

During World War II, in 1943–45, the US Army used amphibious tanks in several landing operations in the Pacific Ocean and in Europe. But they were of little use for combat actions of ground troops and were used chiefly to provide fire support for landings. In the postwar period many armies began using amphibious tanks, armored carriers, and armored cars on a large scale. At present the term amphibians is rarely applied to these vehicles.


(2) The amphibious automobile is used to transport people or freight and to ferry them across rivers, lakes, and other water barriers. It is manufactured on the basis of a crosscountry automobile with all-axle drive. It may have two, three, or four chassis axles. The amphibious automobile has all the units of an ordinary automobile, plus a hermetically sealed body in the shape of a boat or a pontoon for moving on water, a water engine (usually a propeller), a water steering wheel, splash panel, and water pump. The speed of the amphibious automobile on water is 15–20 km an hour.

(3) An amphibious airplane is an aquaplane in the shape of a flying boat that can also come down on land by means of wheels that are lowered.

(4) An amphibious aerosleigh has, instead of skis, a combination float and ski for movement not only on snow, but also on water, on ice with water holes and the like.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. any cold-blooded vertebrate of the class Amphibia, typically living on land but breeding in water. Their aquatic larvae (tadpoles) undergo metamorphosis into the adult form. The class includes the newts and salamanders, frogs and toads, and caecilians
2. a type of aircraft able to land and take off from both water and land
3. any vehicle able to travel on both water and land
4. another word for amphibious
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Amphibian biologists are concerned about a worldwide decline in amphibian numbers and species (Blaustein & Wake 1990; Wyman 1990; Wake 1991; Stuart et al.
One of only four amphibians in the park, they are, says Peterson, "very attractive frogs"--when you can find them.
"Overall, I think the main thing we learned from this study is that exposure to light at night has the potential to make amphibians more susceptible to the effects of additional stressors, like road salt and parasites.
A changing climate is risky for amphibians because of their skin.
The cause of global amphibian declines: a developmental endocrinologist's perspective.
* If you decide to get a pet reptile or amphibian, talk with your veterinarian about the housing and feeding needs to ensure this type of commitment meets your family's expectations and abilities.
To address a lack of information available for DD category, we compiled the largest dataset of geographical occurrences for the DD amphibian species distributed in Colombia.
Afuang, a professor at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB) and in charge of the assessment of conservation status of Philippine amphibians, said that there is a lack of awareness among Filipinos of the Philippine amphibians and their relevance, leading to the destruction of the creatures.
"Therefore, until the ongoing trade in infected amphibians is halted, we will continue to put our irreplaceable global amphibian biodiversity recklessly at risk."
In Montpelier, Vermont, the North Branch Nature Center's Amphibian Monitoring Program has trained hundreds of volunteers to identify different amphibian species.
The morphometric measurements of various amphibian and reptilian species captured during present study are mentioned in supplementary Tables I-IV.