Family of legless amphibian discovered in Northeast

Prof S D Biju of the University of Delhi discovered the new family with co-researchers from The Natural History Museum,London,and Vrije University,Brussels.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:February 22, 2012 12:45 am

Researchers have discovered a new family of legless amphibians,commonly known as caecilians. After DNA analysis of the specimen,scientists have confirmed that it is an entirely new family.

These findings have been published in a paper,Discovery of a new family of amphibians from Northeast India with ancient links to Africa,in the current issue of Proceedings of Royal Society of London.

Prof S D Biju of the University of Delhi discovered the new family with co-researchers from The Natural History Museum,London,and Vrije University,Brussels.

The new family has been christened Chikilidae and the new genus as Chikila. The Chikilidae is a family of burrowers and exhibit highly specialised reproductive behaviour,the researchers said.

The research,which led to the discovery,was carried out over five years in Arunachal Pradesh,Mizoram,Nagaland,Assam and Tripura.

The discovery is the result of soil-digging surveys carried out in 250 localities spread across the Northeast,said Biju,who heads the Systematics Lab,a unit of DU’s Department of Environmental Studies. The researchers have found five new species who belong to the family,Biju said.

Legless amphibians live in the soil and are non-venomous. The scientific name Chikilidae is derived from the name used by Garo tribals to refer to legless amphibians.

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