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News Briefs knocked offline by historic storm (Jeff Barringer) - Monday, Feb 22, 2021

For the first time since launching in February of 1997's servers were knocked offline several times for long periods during last weeks polar vortex. The servers, located in Austin Texas, were victims of state mandated rolling blackouts that impacted many areas of Texas. Though the servers were backed up by a large uninterruptible power supply and a commercial generator system, those systems themselves eventually ran out of power. Additionally upstream internet switches also failed due to power issues thus causing a double-whammy, so when power was restored the servers were still unreachable. Those systems have all been restored for several days now and operations are mostly back to normal. will be totaling up the downtime and offering our advertisers credit to their accounts once we have determined the extent the outage. We apologize for not being able to provide you the level of service that you have come to expect for the last 24 years, but the situation was beyond our control.

That being said over the last 2 months has been upgrading to a new set of Dell PowerEdge servers that are bigger, faster, and more capable than our old fleet of PowerEdge servers. For the first time our servers will be "viitualized", utilizing the multiple cores that the more current generation of Intel processors offers. This has required us to upgrade the core software that runs our servers several generations at once, causing a few bugs here and there that need to be squashed. We have gotten most of them but every once in a while a new one unexpectedly crops up. If you hit one of those bugs please let us know by using our contact form.

This weekend we will be upgrading our classified ad server and you can expect brief periods of down time on Sunday, as well as a few bugs going forward. Next weekend we will be upgrading the main site including the blog, events system, business directories as well as other features. We have already upgraded the servers for the forums, forum archives, photo gallery, and banner ad system. We hope to have all our server upgrades completed by March 15.
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Featured Contributors
Meet the Various Legless lizards (Richard Bartlett) - Monday, Apr 12, 2021

Sheltopusik may be patterned or unicolored. They are interesting lizards are are popular with herp keepers.

By Dick and Patti Bartlett

Called by many different names around the world -- glass lizards (USA), Slowworm (England and Europe), Sheltopusik (Eurasia), and Legless Lizards California, Baja, Australia) -- all are legless (or in the case of the sheltopusik essentially legless), secretive, many are burrowers, and many have fragile, easily autotomized tails.

Glass lizards (seUSA, , Eurasia, Europe, Asia) have functional eyelids, ear openings, and an expandable fold along each side of their body. These may exceed 3 feet in length and lack the suppleness of a snake. Tail readily breaks from body (autotomizes).

Sheltopusik (aka European or Giant Glass Lizard) (Balkans, Crimea, Caucasus, Southwest and Central Asia) have eyelids, ear openings, lateral grooves. The tail is less easily broken off than in most smaller species. (a fold of skin running the entire body length from behind head to but not including the tail. The latter is easily broken off). Usually about 30 inches but rarely to about 50 inches long. May bluff or bite, but they are defensive, not aggressive.

Legless lizards (Western California and Northwest Baja) have tiny eyes with functional eyelids, no ear opening, short blunt tipped tail that is barely discernible from the torso, and seldom exceed 10 inches in total length. Despite being short and thick the tail can be autotomized.

Slowworms (England, Europe) have functional eyelids, tiny ear openings, and are usually under 18 inches in length. Tail readily breaks from body.

Although a few species of the legless lizards of Australia also occur in PNG, most are endemic to Australia.

And remember, no matter how similar these may seem to snakes, they are all harmless lizards.

These interesting reptiles feed primarily on arthropods and worms.

Despite folk tales to the contrary, allow me to assure you that the autotomized tails of these lizards do not reassemble and rejoin the body. A broken tail is a broken tail and if the affected lizard again has a tail, it is a regenerated one. When fully regrown the tail is sometimes as long as the original, but always discernible by aberrant scalation or other differences.
Continue reading "Meet the Various Legless lizards"
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