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New Limbless Amphibia from Northeast India

Chikilidae with a clutch of eggs and newly hatched young ones. At the centre eggs which are ready to hatch. (Right) Chikilidae with eggs. Photo: Special Arrangement


Photo : Chikilidae with a clutch of eggs and newly hatched young ones. At the centre eggs which are ready to hatch. (Right) Chikilidae with eggs.



Scientists have discovered a new family of limbless amphibians from northeast India with their ancient lineage traced to eastern and western parts of Africa, a relationship preserved from the time the southern continents broke up more than 150 million years ago.
Kerala-born Delhi University scientist S.D. Biju and co-researchers from India and Europe have reported their discovery in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. They have named the new family as Chikilidae and the new genus as Chikila, deriving the name from the Northeast Indian tribal language of Garo.
Until this discovery, there were only nine known families of legless amphibians, also called caecilians, found across the wet tropical regions of Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, parts of East and West Africa, the Seychelles and northern and eastern parts of South America. From morphological and DNA analyses, the researchers show that the new family had evolved independent of other species of caecilians starting from the time of the dinosaurs. Its closest relatives now live in Africa.

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