Scientists discover new legless lizards

No, they're not snakes.
By CAROLINE LEE,   |   Sept. 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Scientists discovered four new species of legless lizards in California.

Unlike snakes, these lizards spend most of their lives underground in an area about the size of a small table.

Snakes are legless lizards, too, but these four species are not snakes. They have movable eyelids, so they can blink; they don't shed their skin in a single piece; some have external ear openings; and they don't "coil" or "slither" much. They are also said to be "more rigid" than snakes.

These four types are small, usually not longer than 8 inches and about as thick around as a pencil.

To find the species, researchers put thousands of pieces of cardboard at various sites in the hopes some of the lizards would make an unlikely above-ground appearance. They are sometimes found above ground, but only under logs or dead wood, where the ground is cool and damp.

The four species are silver-bellied Anniella alexanderae, yellow-bellied Anniella campi, purple-bellied Anniella grinnelli, and Anniella stebbinsi, all named after UC Berkeley scientists.

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