Three new species of the rare Caecilians – the first land animals, which look like snakes or earthworms but are neither – have been discovered from forests of Manipur and Nagaland including two species having a unique “moustache-like stripe on its upper lip”.
Amphibian researcher SD Biju, Associate Professor, University of Delhi, who led the team of researchers talking to Hindustan times said, “The caecilians are the first land animals and extremely important from the evolutionary point of view being the oldest of the amphibians. They are the link between animals of the land and the water. There is no evolutionary data available as there are no fossil record of these animals”.
In northeast rare species faces threat due to environmental degradation.
“Apart from habitat destruction, local myth also contributes to caecilian depletion; local communities believe that caecilians are extremely poisonous ‘snakes’. Actually caecilians are neither poisnous nor are they snakes! They never bite. They open their mouth only to eat food,” he added.
Caecilians are carnivorous and eat insect larvae, termites, and earthworms and live for five to 20
The discovery was the result of a collaborative effort between University of Delhi, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and The Natural History Museum, London, Royal Society London.