March 07, 2012
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Researchers exploring northeast India have discovered a new family of legless amphibians, known as caecilians. Although caecilians superficially resemble giant earthworms, they are in fact vertebrates and are most closely related to their amphibian kin, frogs and salamanders.
The new family, dubbed Chikilidae after a local tribe, includes at least three, maybe six, new species. Researchers had to dig through soil to discover the creatures, which spend most of their life underground. Given their subterranean lifestyle, little is known about caecilians. Around 180 species of caecilians have to date been recorded throughout the tropics.