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Meet The “Penis Snake”

Actually its not really a snake nor is it related to an actual a penis, it just happened to look exactly like one.

Microcaecilia dermatophaga

Microcaecilia dermatophaga

A new species of caecilian – a worm-like amphibian – has been discovered in the rainforests of French Guiana. The new species is called Microcaecilia dermatophaga or “little skin-eating caecilian” in reference to the feeding habits of young caecilians, which peel and eat their mother’s skin. The mother isn’t injured by this process — she grows an extra layer of fat-rich skin during this phase of development. Adult caecilians feed on termites and earthworms and spend most of their time living underground or in leaf litter in tropical regions.

Little else is known about the new species, which is related to Atretochoana eiselti, the so-called “penis snake” — also a type of caecilian — that turned up in an Amazon river tributary last year when engineers were draining a tributary of the Amazon for the construction of a hydroelectric dam.

Microcaecilia dermatophaga sp. nov (head only). Courtesy of Wilkinson et al. (2013)

Microcaecilia dermatophaga sp. nov (head only). Courtesy of Wilkinson et al. (2013)

“What we’ve found is another species that’s a skin-feeder, but most importantly, it’s another species that’s quite distantly related to other skin-feeders we’ve found, meaning that skin-feeding is probably an ancestral characteristic for caecilians,” study co-author Emma Sherratt of Harvard University was quoted as saying by the Natural Environment Research Council.

mother with a connected string of five eggs (left) and with two hatchlings during the period of extended post-hatching parental care and maternal dermatophagy (right). Courtesy of Wilkinson et al. (2013)

mother with a connected string of five eggs (left) and with two hatchlings during the period of extended post-hatching parental care and maternal dermatophagy (right). Courtesy of Wilkinson et al. (2013)

penis snake caecilian

source:mongabay.com



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