Is it a snake with legs, or a lizard that looks like a snake?

A lizard that looks almost like a snake has been pictured alive for the first time by Dutch photographer Sjoerd van Berge Henegouwen at the Maasai Mara.

The rare reptile looks more like a snake, but its four tiny legs have seen it classified as a lizard. It also has a notched tongue rather than the forked tongue of a snake.
The lizard-snake has all along been assumed to be extinct.

skink3

The photographer posted the images on his Facebook and was met with inquiries from excited herpetologists around the world.

One of them, German-based Dr Philip Wagner said it is the first photo of a living Western Serpentiform skink he had come across and has asked Sjoerd for permission to publish it in reptile books.

He said: ‘These are the first photographs of a living specimen Western Serpentiform skink. The only other pictures available show dead ones.

‘We don’t know how rare the species is because it is very hard to find.

‘I have found two in my lifetime; one was a road kill and the other was living but I didn’t have a camera on me.

‘This variety of skink has four very small legs but they are more snake like in appearance and movement. Their limbs are almost of no use to them.

‘This is a very important find. The only museum exhibits of them are dead ones and these photographs are very details and show their true colour and the way they move.

‘It gives herpetologists like me who have been studying them for years a much better description of them.’

skink2

skink1

skink4

The photographer, Mr. Sjoerd was at the Maasai Mara to cover the wildebeest migration.

He said, ‘I was in the Masai Mara to capture the big migration of the wildebeest herds and there were some rangers there to make sure people didn’t interfere with the herds.

‘Then the warden’s car parked up and he was looking at the ground. I got out to see what it was and he pointed at what he thought was a snake.

‘He knows all the snakes in the area and he was worried this might be poisonous one because he didn’t know what it was.

‘I realised it wasn’t a snake when I saw the little feet. I took some pictures of it so I could try to find out what it was.

‘I think it moved out of the grassland because the wildebeest were going through that area.

‘When I got home I looked it up and all I could find was a picture of a dead specimen.

‘I posted my photos on Facebook and a few weeks ago a professor contacted me and told me that this was probably the only photos of this species alive.

‘He’s writing a book about reptiles in Africa and he asked if he can use my pictures in the book.

Additional reporting by The Daily Mail