Amphisbaenidae

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Amphisbaenidae
Temporal range: Late Cretaceous–present, 66.043–0 Ma
Amphisbaena alba03.jpg
Amphisbaena alba
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Clade: Amphisbaenia
Family: Amphisbaenidae
Gray, 1865
Genera

17, see text

The Amphisbaenidae, common name worm lizards, are a family of amphisbaenians, a group of limbless vertebrates.

Geographic range[edit]

Amphisbaenids occur in South America, some Caribbean islands, and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Taxonomy[edit]

One deep-branching and somewhat aberrant genus, Blanus, is native to Europe, and may represent a distinct family.[1] More recent sources indeed place it in the family Blanidae.[2]

Description[edit]

Members of the family are limbless, burrowing, lizards with carnivorous diets. As in other amphisbaenians, the body bears rings of scales, which gives amphisbaenids a worm-like appearance. The heads are massively constructed and used for burrowing, with powerful jaws and large, recurved teeth used for seizing prey. Some species have spade-like heads, while others have a narrow keel on their heads, and still others have a rounded skull.[1] The eyes are highly reduced, while the ear bone, or stapes in the middle ear, is large and massive. Together with another bone, the extracollumella, the stapes detects vibrations caused by prey items, allowing amphisbaenids to hunt for invertebrates underground. In this respect there apparently is evolution convergent to the burrowing mammalian family Chrysochloridae, in which the malleus in the middle ear is greatly enlarged.[3][4]

Genera[edit]

Chirindia langi

Over 120 species are in the family, grouped into 17 genera:

Fossil record[edit]

A number of extant and extinct taxa are known from the fossil record:[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gans, Carl (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G, eds. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 216. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 
  2. ^ a b Blanidae at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 1 February 2017.
  3. ^ Mason, Matthew J. (2003-08-01). "Morphology of the middle ear of golden moles (Chrysochloridae)". Journal of Zoology. 260 (4): 391–403. ISSN 1469-7998. doi:10.1017/S095283690300387X. 
  4. ^ Mason, Matthew J.; Narins, Peter M. (2001-01-01). "Seismic Signal Use by Fossorial Mammals". American Zoologist. 41 (5): 1171–1184. JSTOR 3884562. doi:10.1093/icb/41.5.1171. 
  5. ^ "Amphisbaenidae Gray 1865". Paleobiology Database. Fossilworks. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gans, C. 2005. Checklist and Bibliography of the Amphisbaenia of the World. Bull. American Mus. Nat. Hist. (289): 1-130.

External links[edit]