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6257Anguis fragilis - A Living Relative of Arpadosaurus

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  • Neal Robbins
    Nov 19, 2013
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          These links have photos of Anguis fragilis.
          Anguis fragilis is a living relative of the Eocene lizard Arpadosaurus. Both are in the infraorder Anguimorpha and the family Anguidae. However, they are in different subfamilies. Anguis fragilis is a member of the subfamily Anguinae. Arpadosaurus is in the subfamily Glyptosaurinae and the tribe Melanosaurini, both of which are now extinct.
          Anguis fragilis is sometimes called the slow worm, though it is not really a worm. Anguis frailis is a legless lizard that resembles a snake. This lizard is native to much of Europe, including Britain. It is also found in Tunisia, Algeria, and Turkey. Anguis fragilis often takes shelter under rocks or planks of wood. It is frequently found in compost heaps and gardens.
          Anguis fragilis grows up to 40 cm. (1.3 ft.) in length. Males generally have broader and longer heads than females. Adults are smooth and shiny with a bluish or gray belly. Females are generally copper-colored, brown, or red on the back. Their sides are brown or black and frequently have lighter iridescent flecks. Many females have a dark stripe along the back and stripes down the sides. The coloration of the male varies; it can be brown, grayish, or copper-colored. Males typically lack stripes. Some males have blue spots. The juveniles are gold, bronze, iridescent silver, or copper. Their sides are black or brown.
          Anguis fragilis feeds on slugs, snails, and earthworms. It is useful for getting rid of garden pests.
          Anguis fragilis generally comes out of hibernation in March. Courtship occurs in the middle of May and late June. Females can mate yearly or once every two years. The female gives live birth to the young between mid-August and the middle of September. She bears an average of eight offspring at a time. Newborns are 70-100 mm. (2.8-3.9 inches) long. Anguis fragilis takes 6-8 years to become fully grown. Males achieve breeding maturity at 3-4 years of age. Females are ready to breed when they are 4-5 years old. Anguis fragilis has a long lifespan. One particular specimen is known to have lived for 54 years. 
          These publications are references:
      http://www.arkive.org/ Arkive - Anguis fragilis
      Joint Nature Conservation Committee (June, 2009)
      The Herpetological Conservation Trust - Slow Worm Fact Sheet (March, 2012)
      The Reptile Database (October, 2011)
      T. Beebe and R. Griffiths (2000) The New Naturalist: Amphibians and Reptiles - A Natural History of the British Herpetofauna. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
          Neal Robbins