UAE & OMAN 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. Two amphisbaenians occur on the Arabian Peninsula but one, Agamodon arabicus, is only found in extreme southwestern Yemen. Both Arabian species and the North African Trogonophis wiegmanni are placed in the family Trogonophidae.

Trogonophidae:

Diplometopon zarudnyi - Arabian worm-lizard
Although widespread and relatively common this Arabian endemic is often overlooked due to its secretive nature. We found two specimens under debris in the desert behind the Sharjah Desert Park at Al Batayeh. The Arabian worm-lizard has a very unusual head with a flattened front and top and protruding rostral scale for burrowing. Both worm-lizards were placed in a zip-lock bag of sand overnight but they had escaped by the morning, cutting a small hole through the plastic. Fortunately amphisbaenians are not designed for movement on smooth tiled floors and both were quickly recaptured under camera bags.

Arabian worm-lizard,
Diplometopon zarudnyi

from Al Batayeh, Sharjah, UAE
click on the images to enlarge