Caecilian = Legless Amphibian
Caecilians (seh-SILL-yans) are worm-like amphibians which often have even the segmented or “ringed” appearance of worms. Most of them live underground as well, so that you could easily mistake them for real worms, if you saw one of the smaller species. However, unlike true worms, caecilians have a skeleton and teeth! The largest species grow up to five feet long — definitely closer to a snake than a worm, there! 😛
“Ceacus” = blind, but only some of these legless amphibians are also without eyesight. Some of them even have extendable eyes, a bit like a snail! Still, most of the over 100 different species of caecilian have streamlined bodies made for moving swiftly under the ground and leaf litter. Like other amphibians, they require moisture. In fact, some caecilians are aquatic, and species in the family Typhlonectidae even have somewhat of a long fin-ridge to help them swim!
While all but one species of caecilian breath oxygen through both lungs and skin, they vary widely in their reproductive behavior. About a quarter of caecilian species lay eggs, usually with the mother guarding them until they hatch. The rest are born either resembling mini-adults or as gilled larvae (like some salamanders).
There are no known species of caecilian that are native to Europe, Austrailia, or North America north of Mexico. They all live in the tropical parts of Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.
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