Physical characteristics

Anguids may be relatively small (e.g., Celestus macrotus and Elgaria parva) or extremely long (Anguis fragilis). Small bony elements called osteoderms are present beneath dorsal and ventral scales. A ventrolateral fold lined with tiny scales allows expansion of the armored skin when food, eggs, or developing young distend the body cavity. This fold is absent in the Anniellinae and most diploglossines. Limb reduction is common in this family, and some species lack limbs altogether. External ear openings are present in most species, but several species lack them. In diploglossines and ger-rhonotines, the tail is usually shorter than the body, but in anguines the tail is much longer than the body. Anniellines

A western slender glass lizard (Ophisaurus a. attenuatus) in Franklin County, Kansas, USA. (Photo by Suzanne L. Collins and Joseph T. Collins/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

have a very short tail, typically less than two-thirds of the body length.

Caudal autotomy (self-amputation) is widespread among anguids, and fracture planes are present in some caudal vertebrae. Species of Abronia are specialized for an arboreal existence and have prehensile tails. Many anguids are some shade of bronze or brown (e.g., Ophisaurus attenuatus and El-garia kingii), but some species exhibit more strking coloration (e.g., various shades of green in some Abronia and bright bands in some Diploglossus). Some species, such as Diploglossus fas-ciatus, may be boldly patterned. L. Vitt has suggested that D. lessonae juveniles mimic a toxic species of millipede with their bold markings.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment