Oviparous Animals: Definition & List

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  • 0:00 What Is An Oviparous Animal?
  • 0:40 Types
  • 4:20 Caring For The Young
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Ever hear of an oviparous animal? Can you even pronounce it? This lesson will explain what an oviparous animal is, give examples of different types, and explain what makes them unique.

What Is an Oviparous Animal?

Ms. Wilke is a teacher preparing her students for a field trip to the zoo. Her class is studying animal reproduction, and she plans to show them several examples of oviparous animals. Though the word may be strange, it's really just a fancy Latin term used in the biological sciences that means that the females of a species lay eggs externally, or outside their bodies. These eggs later hatch into a young member of the species. Ms. Wilke's students have also learned about ovoviviparous, which means reproducing by eggs hatched internally, and viviparous, or animals that reproduce with live births. Today, though, she'll be focusing on oviparous animals.


On the bus, Ms. Wilke explains that showing and telling her students about all the species considered oviparous would be impossible, since all bird species are oviparous, as well as most fish, most of the reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, and insects--and even five species of mammals. She will, however, show them a few examples of each.


The first thing students notice in the bird house is the amount of feathers--a characteristic of all birds. They also notice that some birds have only one or two eggs, while others have several. Ms. Wilke explains that sometimes birds, like ducks, lay many eggs to make sure some of their young survive; it can be harsh in the wild. The mothers of these birds don't stay with them for too long when they're young because they have a higher survival rate. Mothers who have just one or two eggs, like mourning doves or penguins, have a lower survival rate and spend a longer amount of time caring for their young.


Ms. Wilke only has a few oviparous mammals to show her students, those known as monotremes. Monotreme is derived from the Greek words monos (alone or single) and trema (hole or perforation). This is because all five species of this order have only one hole for ingestion and elimination. You can imagine how the students reacted to that information! Ms. Wilke tells them there are five monotreme species still living: one species of platypus and four species of echidna, also known as spiny anteaters. Luckily, the students get to see examples of both anteaters and platypus.


At the fish tank, Ms. Wilke explains that fish lay their eggs in water. Unlike birds or mammals, they can't keep their eggs in a nest, though. What do they do instead? Sometimes fish lay eggs near a plant where they can attach. They also can dig a hole and bury their eggs. Male fish swim along and release their sperm into the unfertilized eggs in these methods. Other fish, like the cichlids, hold fertilized eggs in their mouths. In order to increase survival rate, fish can produce large amounts of eggs--up to thousands!

Amphibians and Reptiles

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