Oviparous animals are animals that lay eggs
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

, with little or no other embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

nic development within the mother. This is the reproductive method
Biological reproduction
Reproduction is the biological process by which new "offspring" individual organisms are produced from their "parents". Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life; each individual organism exists as the result of reproduction...

 of most fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, amphibians, reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, all bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s, the monotreme
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials and placental mammals...

s, and most insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, some molluscs and arachnid
Arachnids are a class of joint-legged invertebrate animals in the subphylum Chelicerata. All arachnids have eight legs, although in some species the front pair may convert to a sensory function. The term is derived from the Greek words , meaning "spider".Almost all extant arachnids are terrestrial...


With more scientific rigor, five modes of reproduction can be differentiated based on relations between zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

 and parents:
  • Ovuliparity : fecundation is external (in arthropods and fishes, most of frogs)
  • Oviparity : fecundation is internal, the female lays zygotes as eggs with important vitellus (typically birds)
  • Ovo-viviparity : or oviparity with retention of zygotes in the female’s body or in the male’s body, but there are no trophic interactions between zygote and parents. (Anguis fragilis is an example of ovo-viviparity.) In the sea horse, zygotes are retained in the male’s ventral "marsupium". In the frog Rhinoderma darwinii, the zygotes developed in the vocal sac. In the frog Rheobatrachus, zygotes developed in the stomach.
  • Histotrophic viviparity : the zygotes developed in the female’s oviduct
    In non-mammalian vertebrates, the passageway from the ovaries to the outside of the body is known as the oviduct. The eggs travel along the oviduct. These eggs will either be fertilized by sperm to become a zygote, or will degenerate in the body...

    s, but find their nutriments by oophagy
    Oophagy , literally "egg eating", is the practice of embryos feeding on eggs produced by the ovary while still inside the mother's uterus. The word oophagy is formed from the classical Greek ᾠόν and classical Greek φᾱγεῖν ....

     or adelphophagy (intra-uterine cannibalism in some sharks or in the black salamander Salamandra atra).
  • Hemotrophic viviparity : nutriments are provided by the female, often through placenta
    The placenta is an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply. "True" placentas are a defining characteristic of eutherian or "placental" mammals, but are also found in some snakes and...

    . In the frog Gastrotheca ovifera, embryo
    An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

    s are fed by the mother through specialized gill
    A gill is a respiratory organ found in many aquatic organisms that extracts dissolved oxygen from water, afterward excreting carbon dioxide. The gills of some species such as hermit crabs have adapted to allow respiration on land provided they are kept moist...

    s. The lizard Pseudomoia pagenstecheri and most of mammals exhibit a hemotrophic viviparity.

Land-dwelling animals that lay eggs, often protected by a shell, such as reptiles and insects, do so after having completed the process of internal fertilization. Water-dwelling animals, such as fish and amphibians, lay their eggs before fertilization, and the male lays its sperm on top of the newly laid eggs in a process called external fertilization
External fertilization
External fertilization is a form of fertilization in which a sperm cell is united with an egg cell external to the bodies of the reproducing individuals. In contrast, internal fertilization takes place inside the female after insemination through copulation....


Almost all non-oviparous fish, amphibians and reptiles are ovoviviparous
Ovoviviparity, ovovivipary, or ovivipary, is a mode of reproduction in animals in which embryos develop inside eggs that are retained within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch...

, i.e. the eggs are hatched inside the mother's body (or, in case of the sea horse inside the father's). The true opposite of oviparity is placental viviparity
Vivipary has two different meanings. In animals, it means development of the embryo inside the body of the mother, eventually leading to live birth, as opposed to laying eggs...

, employed by almost all mammals (the exceptions being marsupial
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. Close to 70% of the 334 extant species occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, with the remaining 100 found in the Americas, primarily in South America, but with thirteen in Central...

s and monotreme
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young like marsupials and placental mammals...


There are only five known species of oviparous mammals: four species of Echidna
Echidnas , also known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. There are four extant species, which, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of that order and are the only extant mammals that lay eggs...

 and the Platypus
The platypus is a semi-aquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young...

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