A subspecies of the rare Somali sharp-snouted worm lizard was found in Somaliland by a landmine clearance team, the first official sighting since 1931

By Chen Ly

A rare worm lizard has been rediscovered by scientists after a landmine clearance team spotted the elusive animal in Somaliland.

A subspecies of the Somali sharp-snouted worm lizard (Ancylocranium somalicum parkeri) was first reported by scientists in 1931 in the country that is now Somaliland, an unrecognized state in the Horn of Africa. There were then no official sightings of the lizard over the following nine decades.


However, recently, a landmine clearance team rediscovered this elusive creature, marking the first official sighting since 1931. The worm lizard’s distinctive pointy head and its rarity make this discovery even more remarkable!

Bizarre Worm Lizard Not Seen For 90 Years Found In Somaliland
A subpecies of the Somali sharp-snouted worm lizard has a distinctive pointy head. Mark Spicer

Mark Spicer, the Operations Manager of The HALO Trust Somaliland, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that specializes in mine clearance and explosive remnants of war (ERW) removal, wrote a post on his LinkedIn account. “There’s more to Somaliland than landmines. Doing work in unusual, interesting, and understudied places presents opportunities like this. I’m grateful to my colleague Hassan Du’ale for finding this wiggler and calling me over, and to Tomas Mazuch for making the ID.”

Last month, Mark Spicer at the…

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Chen Ly

Chen LyChen Ly is a news reporter who writes about science and technology, from strange animal behavior to the latest news from the Mars rovers. She holds a BSc in Physics from the University of Bath and an MSc in Climate Change: Environment, Science and Policy from King’s College London. She was previously New Scientist’s social media manager. You can contact her at: