Agamodon anguliceps
illustrated by Alan Male, from Whitfield (1983)
Agamodon is a trogonophid, or short-headed amphisbaenian (worm lizard), and it really isn’t easy to find good images of it, or indeed information on it. Indeed, there aren’t that many good places to go on amphisbaenians in general: they tend to get brief coverage in herpetology books, and you need to go to more technical sources if you want to know more... (Darren Naish)
(read more about Amphisbeanians: Tetrapod Zoology)

Agamodon anguliceps

illustrated by Alan Male, from Whitfield (1983)

Agamodon is a trogonophid, or short-headed amphisbaenian (worm lizard), and it really isn’t easy to find good images of it, or indeed information on it. Indeed, there aren’t that many good places to go on amphisbaenians in general: they tend to get brief coverage in herpetology books, and you need to go to more technical sources if you want to know more... (Darren Naish)

(read more about Amphisbeanians: Tetrapod Zoology)

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Rusty-topped Delma | ©Ryan Francis    (Spring Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia)
Delma borea is a legless lizard in the family Pygopodidae, known from Kimberley, Northern Territory, and Queensland, in Australia. 
This species has well developed hindlimb flaps, snout blunt, midbody scales in 18 rows, 4 nasal scales (supra nasal), 3 scales before vent (preanal). Long tail is 3.5 times length of body. Head and neck have 3-4 black to dark brown bands, with interspaces pale orange to cream.
[Source]

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Rusty-topped Delma | ©Ryan Francis    (Spring Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia)

Delma borea is a legless lizard in the family Pygopodidae, known from Kimberley, Northern Territory, and Queensland, in Australia

This species has well developed hindlimb flaps, snout blunt, midbody scales in 18 rows, 4 nasal scales (supra nasal), 3 scales before vent (preanal). Long tail is 3.5 times length of body. Head and neck have 3-4 black to dark brown bands, with interspaces pale orange to cream.

[Source]

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Looks like a snake, but no, it is a lizard with reduced limbs of the genus Bachia, classified in the family Gymnophthalmidae. They sometimes are known as spectacled lizards or microteiids. They are called ‘spectacled’ because of their transparent lower eyelids, so they can still see with closed eyes. Like most lizards, but unlike geckos, these eyelids are movable.
There are 22 known species within the genus Bachia, all with distribution in Central and South America. Specimen shown was photographed in Rondônia, Brazil.
Photo credit: ©Renato Gaiga

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Looks like a snake, but no, it is a lizard with reduced limbs of the genus Bachia, classified in the family Gymnophthalmidae. They sometimes are known as spectacled lizards or microteiids. They are called ‘spectacled’ because of their transparent lower eyelids, so they can still see with closed eyes. Like most lizards, but unlike geckos, these eyelids are movable.

There are 22 known species within the genus Bachia, all with distribution in Central and South America. Specimen shown was photographed in Rondônia, Brazil.

Photo credit: ©Renato Gaiga

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Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) | ©Pierson Hill
Male Eastern Glass Lizards become a beautiful blue-green as they age. Franklin Co., Florida, US.
Ophisaurus ventralis (Anguidae), the Eastern Glass Lizard, is a legless lizard species found in the Southeastern United States. They are are long and slender, that superficially resemble snakes.

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Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis) | ©Pierson Hill

Male Eastern Glass Lizards become a beautiful blue-green as they age. Franklin Co., Florida, US.

Ophisaurus ventralis (Anguidae), the Eastern Glass Lizard, is a legless lizard species found in the Southeastern United States. They are are long and slender, that superficially resemble snakes.

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Eastern glass lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis | ©Becky Gregory
The Eastern Glass Lizards are north american legless lizard restricted to the Southeastern United States. They can be  found throughout the southern and eastern portions of Georgia and South Carolina but are most common in sandy areas of the Coastal Plain.
The specimen shown was photographed in North Carolina, US.
Glass lizards earned their name by their propensity to “shatter” by breaking their tail, often in several pieces. The common belief that these pieces can rejoin is a myth, although they tail will slowly regrow over a period of months or years.
Reptilia - Squamata - Autarchoglossa - Anguidae - Ophisaurus - O. ventralis
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Eastern glass lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis | ©Becky Gregory

The Eastern Glass Lizards are north american legless lizard restricted to the Southeastern United States. They can be  found throughout the southern and eastern portions of Georgia and South Carolina but are most common in sandy areas of the Coastal Plain.

The specimen shown was photographed in North Carolina, US.

Glass lizards earned their name by their propensity to “shatter” by breaking their tail, often in several pieces. The common belief that these pieces can rejoin is a myth, although they tail will slowly regrow over a period of months or years.

Reptilia - Squamata - Autarchoglossa - Anguidae - OphisaurusO. ventralis

Source.

11 New Animal Discoveries From the Past Year

Some of the many exciting new species discovered in 2013.

By Simone Scully

Purring monkeys, glue-spitting worms and vegetarian piranhas were just a few of the species discovered in 2013, and the door is open for uncovering more amazing new animals in the year ahead.  There are 8.7 million species on earth (not counting bacteria), and surprisingly 86 percent of all land species and 91 percent of all ocean species have yet to be discovered by science…

(read more: Audubon Magazine)

photos: Mark Gurney, Philipp Verbelen, and Todd W. Pierson

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realmonstrosities:

The Florida Worm Lizard (Rhineura floridana) is the only amphisbaenian in all of North America! They’re found only in the northern half of Florida.

Amphibaenians are those strange reptiles who have adapted to a life burrowing underground, using their bony skull to plough through the soil.

They’re definitely not snakes, but research is ongoing to find out exactly how they relate to the various groups of lizard.

There used to be lots of amphisbaenians all over the United States, and fossils have been found dating back to just after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Now there’s just one species left, enjoying retirement in Florida.

Images: Mary Keim

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Burton’s legless lizard (Lialis burtonis)
Lialis burtonis is a species within the family Pygopodidae. Members of this family are often referred to as “pygopod” or “pygopodid” lizards as they lack forelegs and have only rudimentary hind legs. They resemble snakes due to their serpentine appearance and phylogenetic convergence, however there are differences between legless lizards and snakes.
Legless lizards lack venom glands and the ability to constrict prey, they have a fleshy tongue rather than a forked tongue, they have visible ear holes and remnant hind limbs.
The species occurs almost Australia wide but it is absent in parts of southern Australia including Tasmania. It also is even present on Papua New Guinea, although, populations are extremely limited. Photo shown was taken at Watagans, New South Wales, Australia.
More information
Photo by Daniel O’Brien

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Burton’s legless lizard (Lialis burtonis)

Lialis burtonis is a species within the family Pygopodidae. Members of this family are often referred to as “pygopod” or “pygopodid” lizards as they lack forelegs and have only rudimentary hind legs. They resemble snakes due to their serpentine appearance and phylogenetic convergence, however there are differences between legless lizards and snakes.

Legless lizards lack venom glands and the ability to constrict prey, they have a fleshy tongue rather than a forked tongue, they have visible ear holes and remnant hind limbs.

The species occurs almost Australia wide but it is absent in parts of southern Australia including Tasmania. It also is even present on Papua New Guinea, although, populations are extremely limited. Photo shown was taken at Watagans, New South Wales, Australia.

More information

Photo by Daniel O’Brien

Hart’s Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus harti), Taiwan

This species of legless lizard is found throughout moist forests in Eastern and SE Asia. Also called the Chinese Glass Lizard. Oviparous (egg laying). Feeds mostly in small invertebrates. Max length of 27 cm. The population on Taiwan may be a separate species, O. formoensis, though this is not widely agreed upon.

(photo: Skink Chen)

What’s the difference between a legless lizard and a snake?

When I posted a story, a few days ago, about 4 species of legless lizard discovered recently in California, a few people asked me, “Why is this called a legless lizard? Why don’t they just call these snakes?” I thought this was a good time to talk about the difference between “snakes” and “legless lizards”.

First off, some herpetologists consider snakes to be just another group of extremely varied and distinct legless lizards. Some would put snakes on an even footing with lizards as one of a few groups within a larger reptilian group called the saurians. Some would stick with the current taxonomy of the Squamata. Regardless of this, lets for the sake of this post consider snakes a distinct and different group from the rest of the “lizards”.

There are actually a few different groups of legless lizards, this is a physical trait that has popped up more than once in the evolutionary history of lizards. Also, it is generally accepted that snakes evolved from monitor lizards, or from a common ancestor with monitor lizards.

1. Snakes have no ears, internal, nor external. Most groups of legless lizards have ears, and you can often see the ear opening on the outside of the side of the head, no such hole exists on snakes.

2. Snakes have a forked tongue and a jacobson’s organ for chemoreception (smell), while most groups of legless lizards do not have forked tongues. Some may not possess a jacobson’s organ.

3. Snakes have a single row of wide belly scales, to aid in movement along surfaces. Most groups of legless lizards do not have such highly specialized belly scales.

4. Snakes do not posses eye lids, but a clear hard window like structure over the eye called a brille or spectacle. The brille is often referred to as a clear scale over the eye, but the structure is believed to be a fused structure composed of the upper and lower eyelids, which evolved over the millenia. Most legless lizards possess typical eyelids.

There are definitely more external and internal anatomical differences between snakes and the different groups of legless lizards, but these are 4 that I thought would be the most noticeable.

(photos of legless lizards, Anniella spp., by Alex Krohn)

4 Species of Legless Lizard Discovered in California

by Douglas Main

Four previously unknown species of snakelike creatures have been found in California — but don’t call them snakes; they’re legless lizards. Prior to the discovery of the new species, there was only one known legless lizard species in the state: the California legless lizard.

Surprisingly, the newfound legless lizards were discovered at a series of sites that weren’t exactly pristine: They include a dune bordering a runway at Los Angeles International Airport; an empty lot in downtown Bakersfield, Calif.; a field littered with oil derricks; and the margins of the Mojave Desert…

(read more: Live Science)

photo: Bakersfield legless lizard (Anniella grinnelli), by Alex Krohn

IUCN: Almost one in five reptiles struggling to survive

15 Feb. 2013 | International news release

Nineteen percent of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, states a paper published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The study, printed in the journal of Biological Conservation, is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 200 world renowned experts assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.

Out of the 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% classified as Critically Endangered, 41% Endangered and 47% Vulnerable.

“This is a very important step towards assessing the conservation status of reptiles globally,” says Philip Bowles, Coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “The findings sound alarm bells about the state of these species and the growing threats that they face. Tackling the identified threats, which include habitat loss and over-harvesting, are key conservation priorities in order to reverse the declines in these reptiles.”…

(read more: International Union of Concerned Scientists)

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photos:

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko (Goniurosaurus kuroiwae) by Hidetoshi Ota; Hump Snout Lizard (Lyriocephalus scutatus) by Ruchira Somaweera; Spiny-flanked Chameleon (Trioceros laterispinis) by Michele Menegon; Amphisbaena fuliginosa by Laurie Vitt; Ahaetulla nasuta by Ruchira Somaweera; Egyptian Saw-scaled Viper (Echis pyramidum) by Michele Menegon