Scientists: New amphibian family augurs more India discoveries
An adult Chikilidae, a new family of legless amphibian known as a caecilian, is shown with eggs and hatchlings in India.
February 23rd, 2012
08:11 PM ET

Scientists: New amphibian family augurs more India discoveries

Scientists have found what they say is a new family of legless amphibians in Northeast India - animals they say may have diverged from similar vertebrates in Africa when the land masses separated tens of millions of years ago.

The find, the scientists say, might foreshadow other discoveries in Northeast India and might help show the area played a more important evolutionary role than previously thought.

The creatures are part of an order of limbless, soil-dwelling amphibians called caecilians - not to be confused with snakes, which are reptiles. Caecilians were previously known to consist of nine families in Asia, Africa and South America.

But different bone structures in the head distinguish this apparent 10th family, and DNA testing links the creatures not to other caecilians in India, but to caecilians that are exclusively from Africa, the scientists report this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

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  1. Ram

    Hi Henry,Sorry for the late response. That aianml is not a jellyfish but a comb jelly. Jellyfish are all place in the Phylum (division of the Animal Kingdom) Cnidaria, along with their relatives the corals and anemones. The feature that distinguishes these aianmls is a special kind of stinging cell called a nematocyte, that they use to capture their prey (or sting swimmers!).Comb jellies are placed in the Phylum Ctenophora. Many of them have tentacles, like the Cnidaria, but they are armed with sticky cells, called coloblasts, that capture their prey by gluing onto it, rather than stinging it.This aianml is the kind of Ctenophore called a Cydippid; it\'s about six inches long. I photographed it in the Useful Islands, in the Bransfield Strait, off the Antarctic Peninsula. The really interesting thing about it is that you can clearly see an Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), which is around two inches long, in its gut. Before I saw this I had no idea that ctenophores could take prey that large.I\'m glad that you like the shot. Stay tuned to the blog I\'ll be posting a series in the next few weeks about some of our discoveries in the Antarctic and elsewhere.David

    April 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  2. I = rubber, U = glue

    Can we all agree that evolution is a fact? How much more evidence do we need?

    February 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |


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