Physical characteristics

Certain features of rhineurids are common to most or all amphisbaenians. These include: a unique modification of the middle ear in which an elongated structure, the extracol-umella, attaches to the stapedial bone of the middle ear, extending forward to attach to tissue along the sides of the face and allowing the reception and transmission of vibrations to the inner ear; reduction or absence of the right lung; an enlarged, medial, premaxillary tooth; the periodic shedding of the skin in a single piece; a heavily ossified and robust skull; absence of eyelids and external ear openings; and a forked tongue.

Rhineurids exhibit a cylindrical body shape, similar to most amphisbaenians. The snout is dorsoventrally depressed, and the head bears a strong craniofacial angulation. The snout region may also exhibit a zone of keratinization over fused head scales, thus resembling a spatulate digging shield. The tail is short, flattened, and bears conical dorsal tubercles. Caudal au-totomy is absent. The ventral throat scales are elongated. Rhineurids are usually pallid or pink in appearance. The dentition in rhineurids is pleurodont. The lower jaw is "countersunk" beneath the upper jaw, and the nostrils occur in a ventral position. A single, median, premaxillary tooth occurs on the premaxilla, sometimes flanked by two smaller teeth. There are four or five teeth on the maxillary and six teeth on the lower jaw.

Beyond those easily recognizable features, rhineurids are also characterized by a number of unique internal conditions, including the complete absence of any pectoral girdle elements and a uniquely modified pelvic girdle.

The Florida wormlizard has a body length ranging from 9.5-11 in (240-280 mm). The tail is less than 10% of the total length; it is flattened and covered dorsally by conical tubercles. The Florida wormlizard has a midbody diameter of approximately 0.5 in (12 mm).

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