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21st June 2024 (11 Topics)

Discovery of Limbless Amphibian in Kaziranga National Park

Context

A team of herpetologists conducting a rapid survey in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve has made a notable discovery. For the first time, they recorded the presence of a striped caecilian (Ichthyophis spp), a limbless amphibian.

What are Caecilians?

  • Caecilians are a group of limbless, burrowing amphibians that resemble earthworms or limbless lizards like snakes and amphisbaenians.
  • Order Gymnophiona: They belong to the order Gymnophiona, one of the three extant amphibian orders alongside Anura (frogs and toads) and Caudata (newts and salamanders).
  • Habitat and Distribution: Caecilians are mostly found in moist tropical and subtropical regions of South and Central America, South and Southeast Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Terrestrial and Elusive: They are primarily terrestrial and spend the majority of their lives underground. Caecilians burrow in various habitats such as forests, grasslands, savannas, shrublands, and wetlands.
  • Anatomy: Caecilians lack limbs and have no appendicular skeleton or shoulder girdle. Their spine shows a kink where the pelvic girdle once was, reflecting their adapted burrowing lifestyle.
  • Caecilians play a vital role as indicator species, reflecting environmental conditions and contributing to pest control.

Fact Box: About Kaziranga National Park

  • State: Assam
  • It was declared as a National park in 1974 and as a Tiger Reserve in 2006. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
  • It is also recognised as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.
  • Area: Covers an area of approximately 1,307.49 square kilometers.
  • Biodiversity: Home to the world's largest population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses. Also hosts significant populations of tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
  • It receives the highest legal protection and strong legislative framework under the provisions of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and Indian Forest Act, 1927

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