Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Amphisbæna
AMPHISBÆNA (from ἀμφίς, on both sides, and βαίνω, to go), a genus of animals, found only in South America and the West Indies, which, though they have the general appearance of snakes or worms, belong to the order Lacertilia, or Lizards. The best known species are the sooty or dusky amphisbæna (A. fuliginosa), and the rarer A. alba. The body of the amphisbæna, from 18 to 24 inches 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, the popular belief in the countries where it prevails has been that the amphisbæna 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 pulverised.