Online Encyclopedia

AMPHISBAENA (a Greek word, from &pegs...

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 891 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
AMPHISBAENA (a Greek word, from &pegs, both ways, and flaivav, to go), a serpent in ancient mythology, beginning or ending at both head and tail alike. Its fabled existence has been utilized by the poets, such as Milton, Pope. and Tennyson. In modern zoology it is the name given to the main genus of a family of worm-shaped lizards, most of which inhabit the tropical parts of America, the West Indies and Africa. The commonest species in South America and the Antilles is the sooty or dusky A. fuliginosa. The body of the amphisbaena, from 18 to 20 in. long, is of nearly the same thickness throughout. The head is small, and there can scarcely be said to be a tail, the vent being close to the extremity of the body. The animal lives mostly underground, burrowing in soft earth, and feeds on ants and other small animals. From its appearance, and the ease with which it moves backwards, has arisen the popular belief that the amphisbaena has two heads, and that when the body is cut in two the parts seek each other out and reunite. From this has arisen another popular error, which attributes extraordinary curative properties to its flesh when dried and pulverized.
End of Article: AMPHISBAENA (a Greek word, from &pegs, both ways, and flaivav, to go)
[back]
AMPHIPROSTYLE (from the Gr. &µ¢i, on both sides, ...
[next]
AMPHITHEATRE (Gr. 441, around, and O&arpov, a place...

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.