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4 new species of legless lizards found in Calif.

Thursday - 9/19/2013, 5:35am  ET

AP: 57961c59-e224-469e-992e-9ba2d71de6c7
This undated image provided by the University of California, Berkeley, shows a legless lizard, one of four new species of legless lizards discovered by Theodore Papenfuss, the University of California, Berkeley reptile and amphibian expert. The biologists are trying to determine whether the lizards need protected status. (AP Photo/University of California, Berkeley)

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Scientists in California have discovered four new and separate species of legless lizards -- snakelike animals that burrow into sand or soil.

The University of California, Berkeley says the discovery was made by its reptile and amphibian expert Theodore Papenfuss, along with James Parham of California State University, Fullerton.

Until the discovery, scientists believed there was only one species of legless lizard in the American West.

They spent years scouring the state for the reclusive legless lizards. They found the new species at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport, in a vacant lot in downtown Bakersfield, on the edge of the Mojave Desert and among oil derricks in the lower San Joaquin Valley.

The biologists are trying to determine whether the lizards need protected status.


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