New family of limbless amphibians found in Indian mud

An amazing discovery related to a new family of caecilians, a branch of most threatened group of amphibians has been found in northeastern India.

Caecilians are the most enigmatic branch of the amphibians which are internationally recognized on Red List. They live in forest soil and are most closely related to an African group of more than 140 million years ago.

After passing a journey of 250 soil-digging over five years that covered every northeast Indian state, the scientists have discovered a family of Caecilians, a very rear type of species that are very hard to spot.

Speaking about this interesting discovery, SD Biju, head of project from the University of Delhi said, “Caecilians are the most cryptic group of animals, and it’s not possible to identify whether it’s a new species or genus or family just after collecting it.”

Caecilians are limbless and smooth, live either underground or under leaf litter that lies on the soil. They have very limited eyesight and their skulls adapted for burrowing.

It is expected that they may be threatened by population growth and slash-and-burn agriculture. But their reproduction process of the young are varied as liking them the baby’s species eat the mother’s skin, which she sheds for the purpose.

For 2-3 months at a time the females stay wrapped around their developing eggs, without eating at all during this period for incubating their young.

Having uncertain future, survival of this group that come from rarely-visited regions of rainforest, is extremely challenging that found very close to human settlement.

During testing DNA of it, the scientists found they had not only a new species, but the first representative of a hitherto unknown family. This 10th caecilian family to be named Chikilidae, derived from the name used in the local Garo tongue.

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