Amphisbaena ridleyi

Amphisbaena ridleyi

Amphisbaena ridleyi, Ridley's worm lizard, Noronha worm lizard

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Amphisbaena ridleyi

Amphisbaena ridleyi, known by the common names Ridley's worm lizard or the Noronha worm lizard, is a species of amphisbaenian in the family Amphisbaenidae. The species is endemic to the island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil. It is one of two indigenous reptiles on the island.

Appearance

Despite a superficial resemblance to primitive snakes, amphisbaenians such as Amphisbaena ridleyi have features which distinguish them from other reptiles. Internally, the right lung is reduced in size to fit the narrow body, whereas in snakes, it is the left lung that is reduced in size. The typical length for this species is 250 millimetres (9.8 in).

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Amphisbaena ridleyi has a stout head with a broad snout, not set off from the neck. Most of the skull is solid bone, and it has a distinctive single median tooth in the upper jaw. It has no outer ears, and the eyes are deeply recessed and covered with skin and scales. The body is elongated, and the tail truncates in a manner that vaguely resembles the head. It lacks legs but has remnants of the pelvic and pectoral girdles embedded within its body musculature. The tail is only loosely attached to the body. A. ridleyi moves using an accordion-like motion, in which the skin moves and the body seemingly just drags along behind it. It is also able to effectively perform this locomotion in reverse.

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Distribution

Geography

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A. ridleyi is found on the island of Fernando de Noronha, a small volcanic archipelago in the equatorial South Atlantic 345 km off the northeastern Brazilian coast. It is common in suitable habitat; Olson reported that it could easily be found in forests by turning over stones. Malathronas mentions that it can be seen basking in the sun on Morro de Pico.

Amphisbaena ridleyi habitat map
Amphisbaena ridleyi habitat map

Diet and Nutrition

Amphisbaena ridleyi is carnivorous, and has blunt, interlocking, teeth, meant for crushing its prey, primarily snails (Hyperaulax ridleyi), but its diet includes other invertebrates. It is the only amphisbaenian known to have specializations for eating hard food such as snails. In periods of drought Amphisbaena ridleyi climbs the trunks of Mulungu trees to obtain nectar from the flowers.

Mating Habits

A. ridleyi is oviparous.

References

1. Amphisbaena ridleyi Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphisbaena_ridleyi
2. Amphisbaena ridleyi on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/176231/175973671

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