Thursday, 23 February 2012

Meet The New Family!

They just discovered a whole new family of Caecilians in northeast India! Isn't she... beautiful?

The discovery was made by a team led by SD Biju from the University of Delhi and involved 250 hole digging expeditions over the course of 5 years. This is pretty fantastic. If you want to be an eternal child playing in the back garden of the world, then this is the job for you.

Caecilians are limbless, near blind amphibians who dig through soil in many parts of the tropics. They're perhaps the most mysterious of the tetrapods and definitely the most unfamiliar of the amphibians. Even people who've finally realised that salamanders aren't lizards will still say "earthworm snake thing" at a caecilian.

Anyway, all that work yielded some great results! After a careful look and some genetic jiggery-pokery, they found that this was a new species in a new genus in a new family of caecilians: Chikilidae. It's named after the local Garo word for the animals and is just the 10th family in the caecilian order. Their closest relatives live in Africa and they diverged from them some 140 million years ago.

As you can see in unexpected detail, they lay eggs which develop directly into miniature adults. The mother wraps herself around them for 2 or 3 months and doesn't eat anything during this time. They reach about 10 cm (4 in) long and can dig through some of the region's tougher soils. Also they were mostly found about 40 cm (16 in) deep, so... maybe it's not really the job for you after all?

.....

Thanks to Dana at shewalkssoftly.com for alerting me of this news. Be it space, the deep sea or right under your feet, there's still a lot more to discover!

6 comments:

Chloƫ Langley said...

Lol, I read about these just yesterday and when I first saw the picture, I thought it was some weird egg-laying earthworm.

Hmm, do they have at least eyes?

Comment1 said...

Haha! It's difficult to understand them even when you've seen them! They still look like worms until you look carefully. They do have eyes, but they're small and underneath the skin. They can only see light and dark.

shewalkssoftly.com said...

Knew you'd like this and would make a fabulous post about it!

Comment1 said...

:D Thanks! And thank you for the link!

TexWisGirl said...

yikes. looks like an intestine...

Comment1 said...

Hahahaha! An intestine procreating and making lots of new, baby intestines. There's an ethics of science debate there!

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