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caecilian

caecilian (sēsĬl´ēən), any of the legless, tailless tropical amphibians belonging to the order Gymnophiona (or Apoda). Most adult caecilians resemble earthworms superficially but have vertebrate characteristics such as jaws and teeth.

Caecilians range in size from 7 in. to 4.5 ft (18 cm–140 cm); most are about 1 ft (30 cm) long. Their bodies are ringed with grooves, which in some species contain small scales imbedded in the skin; possession of scales is a primitive amphibian trait. There is a groove on either side of the head, each containing a retractable sensory tentacle. The eyes of caecilians are nearly functionless, and some species are eyeless.

Caecilians are found in swampy places in most tropical parts of the world, but are seldom seen because of their burrowing behavior. They eat small invertebrates such as termites and earthworms. A few species remain aquatic as adults and resemble eels.

There are more than 180 species of caecilians, divided into 10 families. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Amphibia, order Gymnophiona (or Apoda).

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caecilian

caecilian Underground burrowing amphibian found in Central and South America, s Asia and Africa. Its worm-like body varies from c.18–135cm (7–53in) in length and its colour from black to pink. There are sensory tentacles between the eyes, which are tiny and often useless.

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caecilians

caecilians See APODA.

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caecilian

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Caecilians

Caecilians

Caecilians are long, worm-like legless amphibians in the order Gymnophiona (sometimes known as Apoda, meaning without legs). There are 165 species of caecilians, in 33 genera. Little is known about these animals, and few species have common names. Most of the caecilians are tropical or subtropical, and occur in Central and South America, Africa, and south and Southeast Asia.

Caecilians grow up to 5 ft (1.5 m) in length in the case of Caecilia thompsoni of Colombia. Caecilians are virtually all body, with almost no tail. They do not even have rudimentary leg or girdle bones, and have probably been a distinct amphibian lineage for a very long time. However, caecilians have a sparse fossil record, so little is known about their evolutionary history.

Caecilians are generally a uniformly or mottled gray in color, and somewhat lighter beneath. They have a small mouth, nostrils, and small eyes incapable of movement and covered by skin. These eyes are probably only able to sense changes in light intensity. Caecilians have numerous ring-like, segmental grooves along their body, which enhance their superficial resemblance to earthworms.

Most caecilians live secretively in burrows made in moist soil or in forest litter, often near streams and wetlands. Some species occur in aquatic habitats, where they also burrow in soft substrates. Caecilians feed on invertebrates, some species specializing in earthworms or termites. The skull of caecilians is heavily boned, and the skin adheres to the skullboth of these are adaptations to the chisel-like burrowing methods of these animals.

Caecilians have internal fertilization, a relatively uncommon trait among amphibians. About one-half of caecilian species lay eggs that are guarded by the female, which coils around them until hatching occurs. The other species of caecilians are viviparous, meaning the eggs are retained within the reproductive tract of the female, where they develop and hatch into miniature adults. The larvae feed on their egg yolk, on a rich maternal secretion known as uterine milk, and by scraping nutritious material from the lining of the reproductive tract of their mother. After a relatively long gestation period of 9-11 months, the baby caecilians emerge as fully metamorphosed but miniature replicas of the adults.

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Caecilians

Caecilians

Caecilians are long, worm-like legless amphibians in the order Gymnophiona (sometimes known as Apoda, meaning without legs). There are 163 species of caecilians, in 35 genera. Little is known about these animals, and few species have common names. Most of the caecilians are tropical or sub-tropical, and occur in Central and South America , Africa , and south and southeast Asia .

Caecilians grow up to 5 ft (1.5 m) in length in the case of Caecilia thompsoni of Colombia. Caecilians are virtually all body, with almost no tail. Caecilians do not even have rudimentary leg or girdle bones, and have probably been a distinct amphibian lineage for a very long time. However, caecilians have almost no fossil record, so little is known about their evolutionary history.

Caecilians are generally a uniformly or mottled gray in color , and somewhat lighter beneath. They have a small mouth, nostrils, and small eyes incapable of movement, covered by skin, and are probably only able to sense changes in light intensity. Caecilians have numerous ring-like, segmental grooves along their body, which enhance their superficial resemblance to earthworms.

Most caecilians live secretively in burrows made in moist soil or in forest litter, often near streams and wetlands . Some species occur in aquatic habitats, where they also burrow in soft substrates. Caecilians feed on invertebrates , some species specializing in earthworms or termites . The skull of caecilians is heavily boned, and the skin adheres to the skull—both of these are adaptations to the chisel-like burrowing methods of these animals.

Caecilians have internal fertilization , a relatively uncommon trait among amphibians. About one-half of caecilian species lay eggs that are guarded by the female, which coils around them until hatching occurs. The other species of caecilians are viviparous, meaning the eggs are retained within the reproductive tract of the female, where they develop and hatch into miniature adults. The larvae feed on their egg yolk, on a rich maternal secretion known as "uterine milk," and by scraping nutritious material from the lining of the reproductive tract of their mother. After a relatively long gestation period of 9-11 months, the baby caecilians emerge as fully metamorphosed but miniature replicas of the adults.

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