Scincus scincus

Scincus scincus (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Sauria
Infraordo: Scincomorpha
Familia: Scincidae
Genus: Scincus
Species: S. scincus

The Sandfish (Scincus scincus) is a species of skink that burrows into the sand and swims [1] through it. It is native to North Africa but is also kept as a pet elsewhere.[2]

Description

The name sandfish originated because of its ability to move through sand as if it were swimming. Adult sandfish usually reach about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length, including the short tail.

The sandfish has developed a peculiar way of dealing with the desert heat: it possesses the ability to dive into the (soft) sand. It does this to prevent overheating (as it is cold blooded) and whenever it feels threatened.

The species has a long, wedge-shaped snout with a countersunk lower jaw. Its long, tapered body is covered with smooth, shiny scales, and its legs are short and sturdy with long, flattened and fringed feet. The tail is short, tapering to a fine point. The colouration of this species is considered attractive, being yellow-caramel with brown-black cross bands. This type of lizard also has bead-like eyes so they can close them to keep sand out of their eyes. Similarly its nostrils are very small to keep all of the sand out of its nose and lungs.

X-ray imaging [3] has demonstrated that the lizard swims within sand using an undulatory gait with its limbs tucked against its sides rather than use its limbs as paddles [4] to propel itself forward.
Habitat

Northern Africa east into Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. The animal is found in the Omani deserts.
Diet

The Sandfish is an insectivore. It can detect vibrations that insects in its vicinity create while moving.
Captivity

These small reptiles are common among the US and UK pet stores. This species is very simple to care for.
References

1. ^ Fountain, Henry (2009-07-21). "A Saharan Lizard Is a Sand Swimmer". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/science/21obsand.html?hpw. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
2. ^ http://science.jrank.org/pages/5956/Sandfish.html
3. ^ http://www.physics.gatech.edu/research/goldman/pages/publications/pdf/SandfishScience.pdf
4. ^ http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0003309

Further reading

* Baumgartner et al.; Fidler, F; Weth, A; Habbecke, M; Jakob, P; Butenweg, C; Böhme, W; Rands, Sean (2008). "Investigating the Locomotion of the Sandfish in Desert Sand Using NMR-Imaging". PLOS One 3 (10): e3309. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003309. PMID 18836551. PMC 2561000. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0003309.
* Friction reduction in Sandfish (in German)
* Undulatory swimming in sand:subsurface locomotion of sandfish lizard
* Movies on sandfish locomotion

Images

Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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