Dr. Biju and colleagues at the University of Delhi have discovered a new family of limbless caecilian amphibians (Gymnophiona) in northern India. Although these soil-dwelling animals look an awful lot like earthworms, genetic testing and comparative analyses of their cranial anatomy show that they are in fact an ancient lineage of amphibians that first appeared ~140 million years ago (early Cretaceous). Unfortunately, they are threatened by human expansion.
The San Diego Zoo has a neat website with more information on this order of amphibian.
If you are planning on attending Experimental Biology 2012, don’t forget to enter the contest to win a free Dr. Dolittle “What’s New in Comparative Physiology” t-shirt and try your chance at also winning free coffee at the meeting! To learn more, click here.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B