Skip to main content

Sandfish

Sandfish

A sandfish is a sand-dwelling lizard of the family Scincidae (a skink) found in desert regions of North Africa and southwestern Asia. It receives the name sandfish because it literally swims through the loose sand of its preferred habitat.

Six or seven species of the genus Scincus are called sandfish. They range from Algeria, in northwestern Africa, to the Sind desert region of Pakistan. The best known of these, the medicinal skink (Scincus scincus ) was used in potions for the most diverse complaints in the past.

These lizards are especially modified for living in sandy regions. They are 6-7 in (about 20 cm) long, with a moderately stout body and a relatively short tail. The head is conical with a shovel-shaped snout, and the lower jaws are countersunk behind the snout and upper jawsa common adaptation in desert animals that prevents sand from getting into the mouth. The eyes are rather small and have a transparent window formed by several large scales in the lower lid. The body scales are smooth. The ears are completely covered by scales and hidden from view. The limbs are well-formed and the toes are flattened and have a series of elongated scales along their sides. This presumably aids them in walking over the surface of the sand at night, but they spend most of their time below the surface and move by folding their legs back and swimming with sinuous lateral movements. As expected in such a habitat, the upper part of the body is light tan (sand-colored), with some scattered, vertically elongated brown blotches on the sides. The lower surface is white.

The habits and life history of these lizards are little known. They presumably feed on insects and other desert-dwelling arthropods.

In 2000, scientists discovered that the skin of the sandfish has a lower friction than polished steel, glass, or nylon. Research into the biomechanical applications of this discovery is ongoing.

See also Skinks.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sandfish." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Oct. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sandfish." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 15, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sandfish-0

"Sandfish." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved October 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sandfish-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.