Giant "lungless" worm found living on land with no legs

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Washington, November 19 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have discovered a new giant wormlike amphibian species that can survive on land with no nostrils, lungs, or legs.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the creature, found in Guyana, is part of the wormlike group of amphibians known as caecilians.

Only one other caecilian species is known to live without lungs.

In general, the presence of lungs is among the key characteristics that make amphibians different from fish.

Until recently, scientists thought salamanders were the only amphibians that lack lungs. But, in 1995, researchers found the first known lungless caecilian, and in 2008 another team reported a tiny, land-dwelling, lungless frog.

The new species is even more of a surprise, because the animal-named Caecilita iwokramae-is strikingly different from the other known lungless caecilian.

Caecilita lives on land and is just 4.4 inches (11 centimeters) long, while its lungless relative is fully aquatic and reaches 27.5 inches (70 centimeters) in length.

Together with the small lungless frog, the diminutive new caecilian suggests that lunglessness is most likely to appear in land-dwelling amphibians that are relatively small, according to the study authors.

That's because the lungless land-dwellers breathe through their skin.

Small body size increases the area of porous skin in relation to body mass, making it easier for the animal to absorb oxygen from the air.

According to Marvalee Wake, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, "I speculate that losing lungs might decrease body diameter and help (Caecilita) to burrow better."

"But quite frankly, they may have lost them simply because they no longer need them," she added.

"We are going to see a lot more lunglessness as we look closer at the amphibians," she said. (ANI)

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