SPAIN 2011

 

 

Reptilia: AMPHISBAENIA (Worm-lizards)

Amphisbaenians (often called worm-lizards) are not true lizards although their evolutionary history, like that of the snakes, is rooted within the lizards. Only two amphisbaenians occur in Europe, at the extreme southeast and southwest corners, and they both belong to the same genus Blanus. This genus is sometimes placed in the large family Amphisbaenidae or consigned to the monotypic family Blanidae, depending on whether four or six families are recognised within the Amphisbaenia.

Blanidae:

Blanus cinereus - Iberian worm-lizard
At first glance these reptiles appear to resemble earthworms because of their annulated bodies, but they are true reptiles and actually quite advanced since they are highly adapted for burrowing. They possess enlarged head scutes over thick skull bones but their eyes are diminutive and of little purpose. Achieving lengths ip to 280 mm, they are usually found under stones in sandy country, like that at Robledondo, up to an altitude of 1,800 m, but we also found these worm-lizards in damper conditions under rocks near water at Zarzalejo. Our locations were close to the northern records for this species.

Iberian worm-lizard,
Blanus cinereus

from Zarzalejo and Robledondo
click on the images to enlarge