More than 200 species of legless lizards exist. Sometimes they're called glass lizards because they are easily broken. As an effective way to elude predators, these lizard's tails will break off and allow escape. Sometimes, legless lizards are even called glass snakes or jointed snakes, though they are not snakes at all.
Ophisaurus is the genus name for many species of legless lizards. Eastern slender glass lizards, Western slender glass lizards, island glass lizards and the mimic glass lizards live within the United States. Species such as pink lizards live in Vietnam; plainneck glass lizards live in Mexico. Some species within this genus live in small confined areas -- the Formosan glass lizard lives in Taiwan, the Hainan island lizard in China.
Some of the species within the genus Bachia have vestigial limbs, but most are legless lizards. Tiny vestigial limbs do not function during mobility, but they can assist the lizards during mating. Sometime, Bachia micromela and Bachia flavescens in Brazil have vestigial limbs. Others, such as Bresslau's bachia, Bachia dorbignyi and Bachia psamophilia, do not have such limbs. In 2008 a new species of legless lizard called Bachia oxyrhina was discovered in Brazil.
In California, two different legless lizards exist within the genus Anniella; the California legless lizard and the Baja California legless lizard. The California legless lizard is also known as the silvery legless lizard and the black legless lizard. It is a small greyish-silver lizard with glossy scales. The Baja California legless lizard is likely to have more yellow on its underside, while having darker skin on the top.
Dibamus and Anelytropsis
Genera Diabamus and Anelytropsis contain species known as the blind lizards or blind skinks. The blind lizards inhabit the dense rain forests of Southeast Asia and Western New Guinea, as well as a small area of northeastern Mexico. Anelytropsis papillosus is the only species that lives in Mexico. A new species, Dibamus dalaiensis, was discovered recently in Cambodia, the first legless lizard to be found in that country.
Other Legless Lizards
The family Pygopodidae are known as snake lizards and flap-footed lizards. Examples include Burton's legless lizard and the striped legless lizard, both endemic to Australia. A family of lizards called skinks has several legless species. For example, the Fitzsimon's legless skink and the coastal legless skink live in South Africa. Family Cordylidae includes legless lizards, such as the cape snake lizard, the large-scale snake lizard and the Transvaal snake lizard. Additionally, a few of the plated lizards and speckled lizards have some legless species.
- National Geographic: Blind, Legless Lizard Discovered - New Species
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the ACE Basin
- Conservation International: Brazilian Legless Lizard Officially Recognized as New Species
- International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Redlist of Threatened Species: Anniella pulchra
- International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Redlist of Threatened Species: Anniella geronimensis
- University College London: Vertebrate Diversity, Dibamidae - Blind Lizards
- Queensland Government: Legless Lizard
- Discover Life: Sauria, Lizards
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.