In the Northbay, there are many indigenous legless lizard species, all of them threatened and in danger of extinction! While a legless lizard species has been recorded within the City of Antioch, unrecorded species are to be found in Richmond, Vallejo and many other areas near water or where there is loam earth!
4 new species of legless lizard identified
2013-09-18 by David Perlman from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/4-new-species-of-legless-lizard-identified-4822729.php]:
The Bakersfield legless lizard (Anniella grinnelli) is found in the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Carrizo Plain and is distinguished by its purple belly. Photo: James Parham
Herpetologists have long believed that a rare and varicolored California creature that looks and behaves like a slithering snake is actually a single legless lizard belonging to a single species - but no more.
A discovery reported Tuesday by a UC Berkeley scientist and an Orange County colleague has changed all that.
The two scientists have discovered four new and separate species of the legless lizards hidden in scattered areas across California - in the sand dunes of Antioch, on the margin of a busy runway at Los Angeles International Airport, and in other unlikely spots.
More than 200 other species of the lizards exist on every continent in the world, but the legless lizards of California have born the name of only a single species: Anniella pulchra, loosely translatable as "graceful and lovely."
Theodore J. Papenfuss of UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and James F. Parham of California State University, Fullerton, began collecting them for research 15 years ago after Papenfuss noticed that their colors and stripings, as well as the numbers of their vertebrae, all varied. The researchers suspected those variances represented different species.
They collected more of the lizards hidden in habitats throughout the state, and Parham began analyzing the DNA of museum specimens. He determined that the animals' genes fell into five distinct groups, not one - an indication that there must be four species of Anniella lizards besides the original one.
"These four new species must have once been abundant everywhere in the state," Papenfuss said, "but now it looks as though the unrestricted and growing spread of buildings everywhere has restricted their habitat severely - more evidence of a serious threat to California's biodiversity."
The lizards, whose ancestors, Parham said, must date back at least 50 million years, are hard to find because they live almost entirely underground in sandy or loamy soil and rarely come to the surface. The technical name for that behavior is fossorial.
Papenfuss managed to find more groups of the varied species in a remote canyon east of the Sierra, an empty lot in Bakersfield, an isolated patch of the Mojave Desert, the oil fields of the San Joaquin Valley, all in addition to Antioch's sand dunes and the runway at Los Angeles airport.
California Fish and Wildlife officials have since officially termed them "species of special concern," meaning special care should be taken to conserve them.
Although they are elusive, slender, less than 8 inches long and skillful at slithering swiftly, Papenfuss has invented a way to catch them. He takes big sheets of cardboard or plywood, each about 2 feet by 3 feet, and covers the ground in sandy areas.
"They give the lizards a nice dark, moist place to live, where they can attract termites and other insects to live on," he said. "But even so, if I spread out a hundred covers, I might possibly catch five of them at most." He said he has spread thousands of his covers around the state.
Honoring naturalists -
Papenfuss and Parham, who earned his doctorate degree at Berkeley, have named the four new lizard species after noted UC Berkeley naturalists who have had deep roots on the UC campus.
One, Anniella stebbinsi, is named for Robert C. Stebbins, a nationally known Berkeley lizard specialist who is now 98 and the only one of the four who is now alive.
Another, A. alexanderae, is named for Annie Alexander, an amateur naturalist and Berkeley philanthropist who gave $49,000 to the university to found the Berkeley Zoology museum in 1908.
A. grinnelli is named for Joseph Grinnell, the first director of the zoology museum and a noted expert on Sierra wildlife, and A. campi honors Charles Lewis Camp, a Berkeley paleontologist and early director of the UC Museum of Paleontology.
Discovery of the four new species is reported in the journal Breviora, published by the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.