Reptiles, birds, and mammals evolved from a common amniotic ancestor and it is likely that they share
both behavioral and morphological traits. Equally, since this ancestor lived around 280 million years
ago there is ample time for very different capacities and mechanisms to have evolved. To more fully
understand the evolution of cognition, it is essential to examine the cognitive abilities of reptiles in a
way that is comparable to the vast amount of work that has been conducted with mammals and birds.
Though the processes underlying reptilian cognitive behavior remain far from understood, recent
research has made some noteworthy progress. T his chapter will review the literature on the acquisition
of novel behavior, spatial, visual, and social cognition in a range of reptile species. We will interpret
current evidence in the light of what is known about cognitive processes, and the mechanisms
underlying these, in mammals and birds. Finally, we will discuss the importance of work with
reptiles to gain a fuller understanding of cognitive evolution.