Observation of the Week, 5/25/16

This Checkerboard Worm Lizard seen by benkaddour in Morocco is our Observation of the Week!

Khalid Ben Kaddour has a PhD in Animal Ecology from Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh, and has been doing conservation biology work on the Moorish tortoise (Testudo graeca). He’s admired nature from a young age and counts himself lucky to have grown up in a small town in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, “near a river with beautiful preserved landscapes where we spend much of our free time like the Tom Sawyer cartoon life.”

After a long day in the classroom on May 19th, Khalid and his family took a ride outside of El Hajeb, and his 3 year old daughter asked to pick some poppies and other flowers. As they were out and about and the sun was setting, Khalid turned over a rock and an “unusual” animal he’d never seen before, which as “the shape of a snake, but [lacks] the eyes.” He snapped some photos before it could bury itself and did some research when he got home - it was a Checkerboard Worm Lizard!

Checkerboard Worm Lizards are endemic to northern Africa, and while they don’t completely lack eyes, they do only possess rudimentary ones, as they spend most of their lives underground. The worm lizards (suborder Amphisbaenia) are a poorly studied group of lizards, most of whom lack legs and instead have loose skin which they use in an accordion-like fashion for locomotion. Amphisbaenians use their powerful jaws to capture and devour prey.

While he’s new to iNaturalist, Khalid is optimistic about the platform, and looks forward to share more of his “observations with other scientists and naturalists and possibly develop scientific collaborations in the future.”

- by Tony Iwane


- Khalid has published quite a few papers, you can check them out here.

- Nice video showing a Trinidadian worm lizard - check out its accordion-like motion!

Posted by tiwane tiwane, May 25, 2016 23:34

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