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Meet the Bipes: Lizards With Only Two Legs

You’re forgiven for thinking they look like earthworms.

If you’re ever roaming around Baja California, there’s a pretty good chance you’re never going to see one of the most common reptiles in the region. But if you do happen to come across a Mexican mole lizard, you certainly won’t forget its long, bright pink body and its two tiny little legs.

The Mexican mole lizard, as this video from bioGraphic explains, are one of just three species of bipes, lizards that have just two legs and a wormlike body. They’re found only in Mexico, and the mole lizard lives only on the Baja California peninsula. The species is usually subterranean, so getting to see one squirm around on rocks and through sand like this is unusual. Sara Ruane, a biologist at Rutgers University, explains that researchers use a bucket trap to catch them.

Scientists don’t know all that much about the mole lizard. They spend so much time underground, crawling and slithering through sand and soil, that they make challenging subjects of study. Researchers do know that they eat insects and that, in some places, they’re the most abundant squamate (scaled reptiles such as snakes and lizards) around. Because they’re so common, and eat so many bugs, they’re important parts of their ecosystem.