Limbless creature found in Viet Nam - an "elusive" animal

Limbless creature found in Viet Nam - an "elusive" animal

A limbless creature has been identified in the wilds of Viet Nam, hidden under decaying leaves. This exciting discovery has sparked curiosity and excitement among scientists and researchers, as it appears to be a completely new species never before recorded in scientific knowledge.

The research expedition took place in Nui Chua National Park and included three surveys between September 2022 and March 2023. The focus of the research was to look for the blind skink, a creature that has been "elusive". The interesting results of this study were published in the journal Zootaxa on December 1.

According to, to find this unique lizard, the researchers first looked for yellow-bellied termites, its favorite food, and then explored the surrounding area. By digging through leaves, soil, and rotting logs, the researchers were able to find seven blind skink lizards. 

Upon closer observation, they realized they had found a previously unknown species of lizard called Dibamus tropcentr, or Ninh Thuận blind skink.

The Ninh Thuận blind skink, according to the study, has a worm-like body that can grow to about 4.6 inches. The study mentions that their eyes are not fully developed and are covered by scales. In addition, they have no limbs, and only males have hind limbs that are not fully developed, forming wing-like structures near the tail.

The body color is reddish brown, with the part near the head being lighter and the part near the tail being darker. Although these lizards resemble earthworms, they have a smooth and scaly skin texture.

According to the study, Ninh Thuận blind-skin lizards are often found during the day while digging, especially in areas where yellow-bellied termites live. When lifted or touched, these lizards respond by raising their body scales, a defense mechanism that gives the impression that their skin has become slightly wrinkled. This behavior mimics the characteristics of worms, which are "likely inedible for some potential (skink) predators like birds."

The researchers said the identification of the new species was based on observations of scale patterns, body proportions, and other physical characteristics. The study did not include DNA analysis of the new species due to the limited genetic data available for other species of blind skink.

The new species was found in two locations in Nui Chua National Park, according to the study results. The park is located in Ninh Thuận Province, part of Viet Nam's "driest and most arid" region, about 200 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

The common name of this species was chosen based on the place of discovery, which is Ninh Thuận Province. Meanwhile, its scientific name, tropcentr, refers to the Viet Nam-Russia Tropical Science and Technology Research Center (VRTC). The VRTC has been engaged in research on "Viet Namese ecology and biodiversity" for more than 35 years, according to the study.

More information: NIKITA S. KLIUKIN et al, A new species of the genus Dibamus Duméril & Bibron, 1839 (Squamata: Dibamidae) from the driest and hottest place of Viet Nam, Zootaxa (2023). DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.5380.4.1

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