Legless lizard

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The slow-worm, a legless lizard

Legless lizard may refer to any of several groups of lizards which have independently lost limbs or reduced them to the point of being of no use in locomotion.[1] It is the common name for the family Pygopodidae,[2] but often refers to other groups, such as limbless anguids, depending upon the region of the world.[citation needed] These lizards are often distinguishable from snakes on the basis of one or more of the following characteristics: possessing eyelids, possessing external ear openings, lack of broad belly scales, and/or a very long tail (while snakes have a long body and short tail).[1]

Many families of lizards have independently evolved limblessness or greatly reduced limbs (which are presumably non-functional in locomotion), including the following examples:[1]

  • Anguidae – many limbless species, including genera Ophisaurus and Anguis.
  • Cordylidae – genus Chamaesaura.
  • Pygopodidae – members of the family are named Legless lizards due to their absent forelimbs and greatly reduced hindlimbs.[2] These are small flaps without digits, hence the common name "flap-footed lizards".
  • Dibamidae – all members of the family are limbless burrowers which are nearly or completely blind.
  • Anniellidae – all members of the family are limbless.
  • Gymnophthalmidae – Many limbless and nearly-limbless species.
  • Scincidae – Many limbless and nearly-limbless species.
  • Gerrhosauridae – Several limbless or reduced-limbed species.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Pough et al. 1992. Herpetology: Third Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall:Pearson Education, Inc., 2002.
  2. ^ a b Browne-Cooper, R., Bush, B., Maryan, B., Robinson, D. (2007). Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press. pp. 243, 244. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.