Scientists James Parham and Theodore Papenfuss were searching for the California legless lizard (Anniella pulchra) when they stumbled across four new species of legless lizard.
Three of the new species come in a wide array of colors: The purple-bellied A. grinnelli; the silver-bellied A. alexanderae, and A. campi, which has two dark stripes with a broad yellow stripe on its side. Another yellow-bellied species, A. stebbinsi, looks identical to A. pulchra and was found under leaf litter in protected dunes near Los Angeles International Airport. The four species were named after well-known scientists from University of California, Berkeley.
“You come through this area and see heavy development and you don’t think, ‘there are new species here.’ You think that about the Amazon rain forest,” said James Parham, of California State University in Fullerton. “But here you can show there is a purple bellied lizard that had been separated from other lizards by millions of years in the city limits of Bakersfield. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s real.”
These legless lizards are mysterious creatures, according to Parham and he says that this research has really brought these creatures into the public eye.