caecilian


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caecilian

(sēsĭl`ēən), any of the legless, tailless tropical amphibiansamphibian,
in zoology, cold-blooded vertebrate animal of the class Amphibia. There are three living orders of amphibians: the frogs and toads (order Anura, or Salientia), the salamanders and newts (order Urodela, or Caudata), and the caecilians, or limbless amphibians (order
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 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 ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Amphibia, order Gymnophiona (or Apoda).

caecilian

[sē′sil·yən]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for members of the amphibian order Apoda.
References in periodicals archive ?
Morphology of the kidney in the west African caecilian, Geotrypetes seraphini (Amphibia, Gymnophiona, Caeciliidae).
Caecilians are neither venomous nor are they snakes.
But, in 1995, researchers found the first known lungless caecilian, and in 2008 another team reported a tiny, land-dwelling, lungless frog.
Researchers now report finding a rich cache of ancient caecilian bones that offers an unprecedented look at the early development of these animals.
There are a number of reasons why frogs, toads, salamanders and wormlike caecilians are in peril.
These primitive, worm-like caecilians make surprisingly devoted parents.
In contrast, most other elongated vertebrates whose burrowing mechanics have been studied, Uropeltids, Amphisbeanians, and Caecilians, all share the characteristics of a compact skull and specialized skull shapes for penetrating and pushing aside substrate.
There are approximately 6040 known amphibian species in the world, divided into three main general groups: frogs (5314 species), salamanders (555) and caecilians (171).
Frogs are one type of amphibian, a group of animals that also includes toads, salamanders, and wormlike caecilians (si-SIL-yuns).
The Caecilians, which are worm-like creatures, are in the Family Apoda (which means "without feet").
Scientists have thus far identified nearly 5,000 species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians (legless largely subterranean creatures).
From one-third to one-half of the planet's 6,000 amphibian species - frogs and toads, salamanders and newts, and caecilians, which have thrived for 360 million years - are in danger of extinction.