Cash, W. Ben Department of Biology, Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee.
Last reviewed:April 2020
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A widely dispersed reptile belonging to the family Scincidae (order Squamata) distinguished by reduced limbs and a snakelike body. Skinks (see illustration) are small to medium-sized lizards. They are members of the family Scincidae in the order Squamata. There are approximately 1500 known species, and these reptiles are represented on every continent (except Antarctica). They are especially prevalent in Australia, where there are more than 430 species. Characteristics include elongate bodies, moderate to long tails, and proportionately short, reduced, or absent limbs. Some scales on the head and body have cores of bone. In many species, the eyelids are transparent. Skinks exhibit pleurodont dentition; that is, the teeth are attached on the side of the jaw. See also: Dentition; Reptilia; Scale (zoology); Squamata; Tooth
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