|Image: Brown, Rafe|
Blind Lizards are yet another strange family of blind, limbless reptiles who burrow through the earth with their thick, bony skulls and feed on whatever insects and such they find down there. Just like that other peculiarity, the amphisbaenians.
This time there are a mere 20 or so species, but more are found now and then because "underground" is a really good hiding place. All species come from Southeast Asia except for one, ONE which is all the way over in Mexico.
More unusual for a legless lizard is the fact they have legs! Sort of. The males retain a pair of vestigial, hind flaps which they use to hold on to the female while mating. These are the sacrifices us fellas make for our ladyfolk. It's also why the Blind Lizard family is called Dibamidae, which means "two legs". So it is that a legless lizard is named after its legs. Not for the first time, either.
|Image: J Holden/FFI|
For a while it was thought that at least snakes (sometimes shiny and blind but always legless!), amphisbaenians (wrinkly, blind and legless!) and Blind Lizards were all closely related.
These days it looks like Blind Lizards, along with gekkotans, are a sister to all other Squamates (lizards and snakes).
This means there was a lizard which split into two groups. One of those groups split again into a bunch that began burrowing and became modern Blind Lizards, and another which became all the gekkotans. And as we know, some of those gekkotans became geckos with their fancy, sticky feet, while others went ahead and lost their legs!
The other leggy lizards that became neither Blind Lizards nor gekkotans evolved into all the other lizards we have today. But some of them lost their legs and became snakes, and then it happened again for amphisbaenians! And then it happened over and over and over again to a whole host of other lizards.
Long story short, lizards have always been rather lukewarm about their legs and are keen to drop them at the earliest opportunity.