[ring-koh-suh-feyl-yuh n, -fey-lee-uh n]
  1. belonging or pertaining to the Rhynchocephalia, an order of lizardlike reptiles that are extinct except for the tuatara.
  1. a rhynchocephalian reptile.

Origin of rhynchocephalian

1865–70; < New Latin Rhynchocephali(a) name of the order (< Greek rhýncho(s) snout + New Latin -cephalia; see cephal-, -ia) + -an
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Examples from the Web for rhynchocephalian

Historical Examples of rhynchocephalian

  • In the Rhynchocephalian Hyperodapedon they are drawn out into a strongly curved beak.

    The Vertebrate Skeleton

    Sidney H. Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for rhynchocephalian


  1. of, relating to, or belonging to the Rhyncocephalia, an order of lizard-like reptiles common in the Mesozoic era but today represented only by the tuatara
  1. any reptile belonging to the order Rhyncocephalia

Word Origin for rhynchocephalian

C19: from New Latin Rhynchocephalia, from Greek rhunkhos a snout + kephalē head
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

rhynchocephalian in Science


  1. Any of various mostly extinct lizardlike reptiles of the order Rhynchocephalia, whose only living representative is the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus and S. guntheri). Rhynchocephalians have several primitive skeletal features, including two temporal arches on each side of the skull rather than one, and teeth attached to the edge of the jaw rather than set in sockets. Most rhynchocephalians died out by the end of the Jurassic Period.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.