Temporal range: Paleocene-Holocene, 60–0Ma
The Rhineuridae are a family of worm lizards, containing the only living genus, Rhineura, which contains the species R. floridana. This species is found only in Florida no further north than the panhandle. No subspecies are currently recognized. The family has a fossil record stretching back 60 million years to the Paleocene, and once had a number of species distributed across the western United States.
The fossil record of the Rhineuridae extends back almost to the era of the dinosaurs, with the oldest rhineurid, Plesiorhineura tsentasai, occurring in the Early Paleocene. Plesiorhineura is only known from a partial jaw, but it shares many features with modern rhineurids. Eocene rhineurids, such as Spathorhynchus fossorium, are remarkably similar to the modern Rhineura, suggesting very conservative evolution within the family. The fossil rhineurids are exclusively known from North America, but show that the group once had a much wider distribution, with species known from Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and as far west as Oregon. The wide distribution could reflect the fact that the climate was much warmer in the past. Unlike the Amphisbaenidae, which include round-headed, keeled, and shovel-snouted forms, the fossil rhineurids are exclusively of the shovel-snouted variety.
- "Rhineuridae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
- "Rhineura". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
- "Rhineura floridana". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
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