Blindworm (anguis fragilis, Linn.), a reptile of the order of saurians and family of scin-coids, or lepido-sauri. It is neither a worm, nor is it blind. The family is extremely interesting, as it serves to establish a gradation between the true saurians and the serpents by moans of the genus anguis and others nearly allied to it, in which the body becomes elongated and serpentiform, the ribs increase in number, and the limbs cease to appear externally, being quite rudimentary. We see a similar approach to the ophidians in some of the cyclosaurians, as in the amphisbaena,, which is properly a saurian. These intermediate forms were placed by Gray in his order of saurophi-dians; while Merrem, being unable to draw the line between ophidians and saurians, united them into the single order squamata. The body and tail of the blindworm are cylindrical and snake-like, the latter being as long as the former, and even longer; the head, triangular and rounded in front, is covered by 11 large and several smaller plates; the nostrils are lateral, each opening in the centre of the nasal plates; the tongue is free, flat, not retractile into a sheath, divided slightly at the end, but not forked like that of the serpent, its surface partly granular and partly velvety; the palate is not toothed; the jaw teeth are small, sharp, and inclined backward.
The bones of the head are not movable as in serpents, and the jaws are short and united firmly at the symphysis, so that the opening of the mouth is always the same, contrasting strongly with the great mobility and extensibility of those parts in ophidians. The genus anguis, and its allied genera, also approach the saurians, and differ from the serpents, in having two eyelids, moving vertically, and capable of entirely covering the eye, the lower one provided with scales. The external auditory foramen is distinct, though small and linear; there are no legs, but the rudiments of the shoulder, sternum, and pelvis are found in the substance of the muscles, while in the snakes they are reduced to a mere vestige of a posterior extremity. The scales are six-sided, except on the sides where they are rhomboid, smooth, imbricated, or fishlike, and nearly of the same size above and beneath. One lung is much more developed than the other, as in serpents; the opening of the cloaca is transverse. The blindworm is found in Europe, from Russia and Sweden to the Mediterranean, and also in northern Africa; it forms now the only species of the genus anguis, which formerly included all the scaled reptiles with very short or no feet, and with the scales Dearly alike above and below.
It is gentle and inoffensive in its habits, and quite harmless; even if provoked to bite, its teeth are so small and weak as hardly to make an impression upon the human skin. It is very timid, and when taken hold of is in the habit of forcibly arid stiffly contracting the body, in which state it becomes so fragile as to he broken by a Blight blow, or an attempt to bend it; hence its specific name fragilis. The glass snake, an American species of saurian (ophisaurus), pos-es the same property, as do many other scincoids. There is no rupture of muscular fibre, but a separation of one layer from the adjoining one; in such cases, the detached portion is said to be reproduced the next year. From its smoothness it is able to penetrate into very small openings, and it delights to burrow-in soft dry soil, and under decaying wood and leaves; it moves by lateral contractions, and sheds its skin, according to Bell, like the true snakes. It is ovo-viviparous, the young being brought forth alive in June or July, to the number of from 7 to 14. The general color is a brownish gray, with a silvery glance, with several parallel longitudinal rows of dark spots on the sides, and one along the middle of the back; the length is from 10 to 14 inches, of which the head is about half an inch.
Its food consists of worms, insects, and small terrestrial mol-lusks; it is not fond of the water. In France it is called l'orvet. The blindworrn approaches the ophidians in its form, manner of progression, absence of feet, number of ribs, and inequality of lung development; but it belongs to the scincoid sanrians by the structure of the tongue, head, and jaws, by the occurrence of movable eyelids, and by the peculiarities of the vertebral column.
Blind Fish (Amblyopsis spelaeus).
Blindworm (Anguis fragilis).