Temporal range: Cretaceous – Recent 99–0Ma
|black: range of Amphisbaenia|
Amphisbaenia (called worm lizards) is a clade of specialized burrowing lizards characterized by long bodies, reduction or loss of the limbs, and rudimentary eyes. As many species possess a pink body coloration and scales arranged in rings, they have a superficial resemblance to earthworms. All species are limbless except for Bipes, which retains forelimbs. Although superficially similar to the snakes and dibamids, studies of DNA suggest that they are more closely related to the Lacertidae. Amphisbaenians are widely distributed, occurring in North America, Europe, Africa, South America, and the Carribbean. Over 180 species are currently known, with most occurring in Africa and South America. Little is known of them outside of their anatomy, and even that is difficult to study due to the mechanics of dissecting something so small. Most species are less than 6 inches (150 mm) long.
Despite a superficial resemblance to some primitive snakes, amphisbaenians have many unique features that distinguish them from other reptiles. Internally, their right lung is reduced in size to fit their narrow bodies, whereas in snakes, it is always the left lung. Their skeletal structure and skin are also different from those of other squamates. Both molecular genetic and recent fossil evidence indicate that amphisbaenians lost their legs independently from snakes. 
The head is stout, not set off from the neck, and either rounded, sloped, or sloped with a ridge down the middle. Most of the skull is solid bone, with a distinctive single median tooth in the upper jaw. It has no outer ears, and the eyes are deeply recessed and covered with skin and scales. The body is elongated, and the tail truncates in a manner that vaguely resembles the head. Their name is derived from Amphisbaena, a mythical serpent with a head at each end. The four species of ajolote are unusual in having a pair of forelimbs, but all limbless species have some remnants of the pelvic and pectoral girdles embedded within the body musculature.
The skin of amphisbaenians is only loosely attached to the body, and they move using an accordion-like motion, in which the skin moves and the body seemingly just drags along behind it. Uniquely, they are also able to perform this motion in reverse just as effectively.
Amphisbaenians are carnivorous, able to tear chunks out of larger prey with their powerful, interlocking teeth. Like lizards, some species are able to shed their tails (autotomy). Most species lay eggs, although at least some are known to be viviparous.
The white worm lizard (Amphisbaena alba) is often found in association with leaf-cutter ants. This reptile is thought to forage in the ants' deep galleries where the insects deposit their waste. The larvae of certain large beetles live in these galleries and it is these on which the reptile preys.
- Suborder: AMPHISBAENIA
- Family: Amphisbaenidae – Gray, 1865 – Amphisbaenids, tropical worm lizards (17 genera)
- Family: Bipedidae – Taylor, 1951 – Ajolotes (1 genus)
- Family: Rhineuridae – Vanzolini, 1951 – North American worm lizards (1 genus)
- Family: Trogonophidae – Gray, 1865 – Palearctic worm lizards (4 genera)
- Family: Blanidae – Anatolian, Iberian, and Moroccan worm lizards (1 genus)
- Wu X.-c., D. B. Brinkman, A. P. Russell, Z.-m. Dong, P. J. Currie, L.-h. Hou, & G.-h. Cui (1993). "Oldest known amphisbaenian from the Upper Cretaceous of Chinese Inner Mongolia." Nature 366: 57–59.
- Gans, Carl (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G., ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 212–215. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
- Muller, J et al. (2011). "Eocene lizard from Germany reveals amphisbaenian origins." Nature 473: 364–367.
- Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
- "Amphisbaenidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
- "Bipedidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
- "Rhineuridae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
- "Trogonophidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.