Saturday, July 9, 2011

Florida Worm Lizard

Rhineura floridana
The Florida Worm Lizard is the only member of its entire taxonomic family. Though the name might suggest they are a legless lizard, they aren't a true lizard at all. They actually fit into their very own suborder, along with a handful of other species. The Amphisbaenids, as they are called, differ from lizard and snakes in their skeletal structure, lung anatomy, and placement of eyes and ears.

The Florida Worm Lizard is the last remaining Amphisbaenid in North America, and its closest relatives died out around 60 million years ago!

When you see one of these strange reptiles, you might think its abnormally large earthworm. Florida Worm Lizards are a pale, pinkish color, and have ringed scales that help them to move about underground. They also have pointy, wedge-shaped snouts to help in digging, eyes covered in scales, and a recessed low jaw that keeps sand and soil out.

Florida Worm Lizards spend most of their time underground, and really only surface when rain and wet ground forces them upwards. Then even lay their eggs underground!

IUCN Status :  Least Concern
Location : Florida
Size : Length up to 12in (30cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- Order : Squamata
Suborder : Amphisbaenia -- Family : Rhineuridae -- Genus : Rhineura -- Species : R. floridana

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