The Anniellinae, Diploglossinae, and Gerrhonotinae are restricted to the New World, but the Anguinae has representatives in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Phylogenetic analyses conducted by J. R. Macey and his colleagues suggest that anguids originated in the Northern Hemisphere (probably in North America) and only later colonized Africa and South America. Anguids are absent from sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, and Australia. Anguids occur from sea level to at least 12,470 ft (3,800 m).

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