Scientists discover snake-like new species of amphibians with venom glands

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Scientists discover snake-like new species of amphibians with venom glands
Scientists discover snake-like new species of amphibians with venom glands

New Delhi : The scientists have discovered a new species of venomous amphibians also known as ringed Caecilian or siphonops annulatus.

According to a study published in journal iScience on July 3, the researchers from Brazil and United States have discovered that the new species resides in self-made burrows and produce two different types of secretion - mucus in their head and a snake-like poison in their tail end.

It has also been learned that they are blind and use facial tentacles and slime to roam around. The new species is found in areas of tropical climate Africa, Asia and America, said researchers. They also claimed that the new species is poisonous; however, the amphibians "cannot inject their venoms and instead rely on an attacker pressing on their pointy bits."

Professor Edmund Brodie, Utah state university professor and co-author of the study asserted that amphibians (like frogs) are basically harmless. However, he confirmed there were a number of amphibians that stored "nasty" poisonous secretions in their skin to deter predators. Moreover, Senior author Dr. Carlos Jared added that since "caecilians are one of the least-studied vertebrates, their biology is a black box full of surprises."

Caecilian amphibians have around 250 million years of evolutionary history apart from anurans and salamanders (Pyron, 2011; Roelants et al., 2007; San Mauro, 2010; Zhang and Wake, 2009). Anurans and salamanders have developed a variety of feeding systems, whereas caecilians are exclusively jaw-feeders (Bemis et al., 1983; Duellman and Trueb, 1994) utilizing a powerful bite (Measey and Herrel, 2006; Summers and Wake, 2005) and a series of curved sharp-pointed teeth, which act on apprehension and ingestion (Wake, 1976) of invertebrates such as earthworms and subterranean arthropods, or even larger prey, such as anurans (Kupfer et al., 2005; Ngo et al., 2014), lizards (Moll and Smith, 1967), and snakes (Greef, 1884; Presswell et al., 2002).

The production of toxins for prey subjugation or defense has evolved many times in animals (Arbuckle, 2015; Casewell et al., 2013). Amphibians produce (or sequester) toxins in their skin glands (Jeckel et al., 2015) and are considered poisonous instead of venomous owing to their passive defense, lacking a system for toxin injection (Jared et al., 2015; Mailho-Fontana et al., 2014).