Strange images of pink ‘marbles’ are the eggs of a legless amphibian related to salamanders, experts say
- Strange pictures show the little see-through eggs which contain the creatures
- The chikilidae is a caecilian, the most primitive of three amphibian groups
- Because they live hidden underground, virtually nothing is known about them
- They are thought to originate in India and others are spread across the tropics in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America
Images which appear to be of a strange handful of pink marbles in a patch of mud are actually the eggs of a legless amphibian.
The pictures show the little see-through balls which contain the creatures which belongs to the Chikilidae family, related to the salamander.
The chikilidae is a caecilian, the most primitive of three amphibian groups that also includes frogs.
Because they live hidden underground, not much is known about them unlike their more famous – and vocal – amphibious cousins, the frogs.
In adult form, they look a lot like worms or a miniature snake, despite having a spine.
They do have eyes, but their sight is extremely limited as they spend most of their time underground.
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Images which appear to be of a strange handful of pink marbles in a patch of mud are actually the eggs of a legless amphibian. The pictures show the little see-through balls which contain the creatures which belongs to the Chikilidae family, related to the salamander
The species was discovered in 2012 in India, giving more evidence that the region is a hotbed of amphibian life with habitats worth protecting.
‘This is a major hotspot of biological diversity, but one of the least explored,’ Biju said in an interview at the time.
‘We hope this new family will show the importance of funding research in the area. We need to know what we have, so we can know what to save.’
The females brood with the eggs for 2-3 months, and researchers think the adults don’t feed during this time.
When they finally hatch, there’s no larval stage – like frogs tend to have with tadpoles. Instead, they emerge as small adults and squirm away.
They grow to about 4 inches (10 centimeters), and can ram their skulls through some of the region’s tougher soils
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Because they live hidden underground, not much is known about them unlike their more famous – and vocal – amphibious cousins, the frogs. In adult form, they look a lot like worms or a miniature snake, despite having a spine
The chikilidae’s 2012 discovery brings the number of known caecilian families in the world to 10.
Three are in India and others are spread across the tropics in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
Only 186 of the world’s known amphibious species are caecilians, compared with more than 6,000 frog species – a third of which are considered endangered.
They are harmless feed on worms and insects that might harm crops, and churnthe soil as they moves underground.
WHAT ARE SEHUENCAS WATER FROGS?
The Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare) is a species of frog that occurs in the eastern Andes of Bolivia at 2,000-3,000 metres (6,561-9,842 feet) above sea level.
It is an aquatic frog species that lives on the bottom of small streams or rivers, and in ponds, in montane cloud forest and Yungas forest.
It is though that it breeds in water by larval development.
The species has likely declines due to habitat loss and degradation due to agriculture and logging, as well as water pollution.
Chytridiomycosis, an infectious fungal diseases that affects amphibians worldwide, is also a potential threat.
Although the species is currently listed is vulnerable on the IUCN red list, this is based on an assessment from 2004, and researchers with the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative say that an 11-year-old male Sehuencas frog named Romeo is the last of his species.
Source: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
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