- This is an Legless Lizard, often referred to as a Glass Snake, although the true name of this reptile is the Eastern Glass Lizard. What's that you say? I'm wrong you say? You know a snake when you see one, your granddaddy taught you what is and what
is not a snake and he'd say that this is a snake, you say?
Well you, and your granddaddy, are wrong. It's a lizard. It just so happens to have the same body design as a snake. This is similar to the way a dolphin may be a mammal, but looks more like a fish, because having
smooth skin, a torpedo shaped body, flippers and fins is a great way to thrive in the water. Oftentimes, completely different species of animals take on the same characteristics as each other.
This phenomenon is known as convergent evolution
. Oftentimes, a certain body type or other characteristic is more advantageous to survival, and thus wins out over time. Snakes have a great design which allows easy movement through tight spots and the
ability to sneak up on prey in a smooth fashion, and so some lizards branched off and adopted a more
snakelike shape and movement, and smaller limbs were a greater asset, and eventually the limbs disappeared completely. Glass Lizards have some tiny remnants, just as whales have tiny hind leg bones hidden beneath all that blubber, but overall, Glass Lizards look like snakes.
But look more closely, and you will see two very distinct and important differences. First, this reptile has eyelids, as all lizards do, but no snakes do. Second, it has earholes, a trait of lizards, but snakes have no ears. And if you actually hold and handle this
animal, it feels distinctly different from a snake. A snake feels more elastic, like a long muscle with ribs, and it's flexible with a flat belly. The Glass Lizard feels more stiff and wiry and springy, with a very round, almost hard, body. It's more likely to
flop around in your hands than to coil itself around your hand and squeeze like a snake. So yes, it's a lizard, one without legs, so people decided to call it a legless lizard. Myself, I'd rather call it an Eyelidded Snake.
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