Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Caecilians

When we talk about Amphibians, most people seem to know The Order ANURA (frogs and toads) and the Order CAUDATA (salamanders). There is a 3rd group of amphibians, the Order GYMNOPHIONA (caecilians). The caecilians are legless, and usually fossorial (living underground, but a few are aquatic). They are only found in the tropical regions of the world; in Central and South America, Africa, and SE Asia. They have small calcite scales embedded in the skin, which is unique to this group amongst the amphibians.

Icthyophis kohtaoensis (SE Asia)

The tentacles aid in smell and touch

I. kohtaoensis tail tip

Gegenophis mhadeiensis (India)

Dermophis sp. (Central America)

Siphonops annulatus (South America)

Typhlonectes natans (aquatic)

T. natans up close

Even Typhlonectes possess lungs. Only
a few species are lungless.

African species

Caecilian development

Mother with eggs

Caecilian embryo

Embryo up close

Mother with young

The development and care of young of most
caecilian species is not well understood. They
are rarely seen animals in the wild because
of their fossorial habits.

Caecilian skeleton

Check out this video of a mother caring for her young, as they feed on the dead outer layers of her skin! This is a recent discovery by scientists.

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