As a Tet Zoo regular you’ll know and love the remarkable limbless amphibians known as caecilians.
In case you don’t know, caecilians have sensory tentacles, sometimes have protrusible eyes, sometimes lack eyes entirely, often exhibit sophisticated parental care [maternal skin-feeding is going on in the middle image above], are incredibly long-bodied yet often lack tails, sometimes possess large, anatomically complex, eversible male sexual organs, and so on and so forth. Should you need to know more, please visit the links below. Due to their fossorial habits, a very confused taxonomic history, and a lack of study, caecilians are very poorly known and astonishingly little is known about the conservation status of many of the 180 or so species. Given that amphibian species worldwide are undergoing major declines, it is imperative that we learn more.
I’m very pleased to report that the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is hosting a whole evening devoted to caecilians on Monday 7th December, entitled ‘The Secret World of Naked Snakes’. ‘Naked snakes’ aren’t snakes at all, of course, but this is what Gymnophiona means (it’s one of the two names widely used for the group). The talks begin at 6.00pm in the ZSL Meeting Rooms, and the talks and question period after are free and open to everyone (doors will be open from 5.00pm and seats will be on a first-come, first-served basis). There will be talks on the biology and conservation of the group (Helen Meredith is talking about the caecilians that are on the EDGE* list); Alexander Kupfer’s talk on reproductive behaviour and parental care is titled ‘Yummy mummy’. For more on the meeting, please do visit the ZSL page here.
I admit I was somewhat surprised to learn that the meeting is being chaired by Ken Livingstone. For those of you outside of the UK I should note that Livingstone is a well known politician and former Mayor of London (a position he held from 2000 to 2008). What on earth is he doing standing up at a zoological meeting devoted to caecilians, I hear you cry. Relatively poorly known (it seems) is that Livingstone is a genuine amphibian enthusiast who has kept and bred various obscure anuran and caudate species (thanks to David Gower for this information).
I look forward to the meeting and hope to see some of you there. I’ll report on what happened here at Tet Zoo.
For the Tet Zoo guide to caecilians see…
- Surreal caecilians part I: tentacles and protrusible eyes
- Surreal caecilians part II: pass mum’s skin, hold the mayo
And for other crucial stuff on amphibians you should also check…