Saturday, September 21, 2013

Legless lizard, we're waiting to discover you in Pacifica

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/18/13.  "4 new species of legless lizards found in California."

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Scientists in California have discovered four new and separate species of legless lizards — snakelike animals that burrow into sand or soil.

....  Until the discovery, scientists believed there was only one species of legless lizard in the American West.

California Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra)
Looks kind of like a snake to me
California Legless Lizard (Anniella pulchra)
Here's my pretty face
They spent years scouring the state for the reclusive legless lizards. They found the new species at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport, in a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, on the edge of the Mojave Desert and among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley. 

....  The biologists are trying to determine whether the lizards need protected status.   Read more.

Related -  Wild, John Sullivan. "This is a beautiful shiny little lizard, no longer or thicker than the average pencil. Although it has no legs, you can tell it's a lizard (well, OK, maybe not you, but the people who study these things) because it has eyelids, a tail that it's willing to break off as a decoy while escaping, and various lizardy internal organs and skeletal details. They usually live in loose sandy soil, and are eager to burrow away when exposed. I found this one under a piece of cardboard, and you can see in the second photo that it would rather be burrowing than posing.

I was happy to finally see another one of these after twenty or so years. When I was a kid I saw a dozen or so at different times in southern California, but I hadn't stumbled across another since then.
Many references split this species into two subspecies: A. p. pulchra (Silvery Legless Lizard) and A. p. nigra (Black Legless Lizard), but more recent studies have concluded that the silvery and black variations are just points along a continuum of shades, and not separable subspecies."  Note:  The above legless lizard photographs were taken at  Moss Landing (Monterey County), CA, by John Sullivan. 
Reference, comparison with the European legless lizardLegless lizard.  Classification and Range  -Legless lizards belong to the family Anguidae, a family of around 80 species that is largely confined to the Americas. Two species of this family occur in the Old World: the slow worm (Anguis fragilis) and the European legless lizard (Ophisaurus apodus). Although many members of this family lack limbs, this is not a characteristic of every anguid; many American anguid lizards have four well-developed limbs. European legless lizards, also called glass lizards, range from the Balkans as far as Istria (peninsula in northeastern Italy) and northeast Bulgaria. They are also found in Crimea, Caucasus and parts of southwest and central Asia. Habitat - The European legless lizard is normally found in fairly dry habitats, often frequenting rocky hillsides with some cover. These lizards can also be found in dry stone walls, embankments and stone piles. They are diurnal and crepuscular, and are often active after rainfall.  Length and Weight -The European legless lizard is the largest lizard of its family, its average length (including tail) being 2-3 feet (.6-.9 m). The longest recorded European legless lizard was 4 feet (1.2 m). They normally weigh 11-21 ounces (300-600 g). Life Span - Up to 54 years in captivity.  Diet - In the wild: The European legless lizard feeds on a variety of small mammals, bird eggs and invertebrates such as insects and earthworms. At the zoo - Crickets, mealworms and furred mice.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

So how long before they find these in the quarry. Wait, are we talking about lounge lizzards, everyone knows Pacifica had many!

Anonymous said...

Those lounge lizards are already squatting in the quarry.

Unknown said...

I found one, what should I do with it?

Unknown said...

Really, I can use some information on the understanding between snakes and the legless lizards.