From both birds and reptiles the class is distinguished, so far at any rate as existing forms are concerned, by the following features: the absence of a nucleus in the red corpuscles of the blood, which are nearly always circular in outline; the free suspension of the lungs in a thoracic cavity, separated from the abdominal cavity by a muscular partition, or diaphragm, which is the chief agent in inflating the lungs in respiration; the aorta, or main artery, forming but a single arch after leaving the heart, which curves over the left terminal division of the windpipe, or bronchus; the presence of more or fewer hairs on the skin and the absence of feathers; the greater development of the bridge, or commissure, connecting the two halves of the brain, which usually forms a complete corpus callosum, or displays an unusually large size of its anterior portion; the presence of a fully developed larynx at the upper end of the trachea or windpipe, accompanied by the absence of a syrinx, or expansion, near the lower end of the same; the circumstance that each half of the lower jaw (except perhaps at a very early stage of development) consists of a single piece articulating posteriorly with the squamosal element of the skull without the intervention of a separate quadrate bone; the absence of prefrontal bones in the skull; the presence of a pair of lateral knobs, or condyles (in place of a single median one), on the occipital aspect of the skull for articulation with the first vertebra; and, lastly, the very obvious character of the female being provided with milk-glands, by the secretion of which the young (produced, except in the very lowest group, alive and not by means of externally hatched eggs) are nourished for some time after birth.
The prefrontal bones are still in contact with the nasals as in the previous families, but the coronoid bones of the mandibles are absent as in the remaining families, and this loss also occurs in the Boine Charina.
No ectopterygoid pterygoid not extending to quadrate; no supratemporal or squamosal; prefrontal forming a suture with nasal; coronoid present; vestiges of pelvis present.
Coronoid present, prefrontal in contact with nasal.
Maxillary bordering the mouth, forming sutures with the premaxillary, prefrontal and frontal, toothless; lower jaw toothed; pubis and ischium present, the latter forming a symphysis: Glauconiidae.