Physical characteristics

Blindskinks are small to medium-sized lizards, about 2-10 in (50-250 mm) in snout-vent length. They are brown, with short, blunt tails, which break at fracture planes in tail vertebra. Forelimbs and bones of the pectoral girdle are entirely absent. Males have small flaplike hind limbs somewhat reminiscent of those of some pygopodids, perhaps used in courtship or copulation. Females are entirely limbless. Remnants of the pelvic girdle are present. Dibamus are the only squamates with pores on their lower legs. As in many bur-rowers, the skulls consist of massively fused bones, parts of which have lost the ability to move with respect to one another. The heads are blunt, and eyes are vestigial and lie beneath an immovable head scale. Paired frontal and nasal bones and scales are present. The parietal bone is fused, without a foramen. Teeth are pleurodont, set in sockets, and small, and they curve backward to a single point. There are no teeth on the palatal or pterygoid bones. Tongues are covered dorsally with filamentous papillae, without lingual scales. The fore-tongue is nonretractable. The nostrils are located at the tip of the snout on an enlarged rostral scale. They have no external ear openings. Their bodies are covered with shiny, smooth, overlapping scales without osteoderms.

A blindskink, Dibamus bourreti, from Vietnam. (Photo by Robert W. Murphy. Reproduced by permission.)

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Blindskink, Dibamus sp. (Illustration by Michelle Meneghini)

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