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worm lizard

worm lizard, partially or entirely limbless burrowing lizard of the family Amphisbaenidae. All worm lizards lack hind limbs and most species lack forelimbs as well. Except for their size, they are very similar in appearance to earthworms, with cylindrical bodies ringed by shallow grooves. Their eyes and ears are covered by skin. Most are about a foot (30 cm) long. Members of many species remain underground most of their lives, feeding on earthworms, spiders, and insects. Worm lizards are found in tropical and warm temperate areas of Africa, SW Asia, S Europe, and the Americas. The only species found in the United States is the Florida worm lizard, Rhineura floridana, of N and central Florida, which attains a length of 11 in. (28 cm). Worm lizards are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Amphisbaenidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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