The Cayenne Caecilian, also known as Typhlonectes compressicauda, is a unique species of amphibian that belongs to the Typhlonectidae family.
This interesting creature lives in water and is found in various South American countries, including Amazonian Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Guyana, and French Guiana.
What Does the Cayenne Caecilian Look Like?
Cayenne Caecilian has a long, slender body that is dark grey, black, or steely blue in color. It doesn’t have any limbs, and its body is flattened on the sides.
Cayenne Caecilian has a segmented appearance due to numerous transverse folds on its body.
It also has a long fin running along its back and can grow between 12 to 22 in (30 to 55 cm) in length.
Where Does the Cayenne Caecilian Live?
The Cayenne Caecilian is found in South America, particularly in the Amazon basin and river systems in the Guianas.
It usually lives at altitudes up to 660 ft (200 m) above sea level.
Because it’s common and has a wide range, it’s listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
This aquatic amphibian inhabits permanent rivers and marshes, mainly in the lowland forest zone.
It spends its days in communal burrows and comes out at night to search for food.
What Does the Cayenne Caecilian Eat?
Cayenne Caecilian feeds on small invertebrates, such as insect larvae and shrimp, that it finds in the sediment of shallow streams and rivers. It also eats small fish.
This amphibian has no functional eyes, so it likely detects its prey through touch or by feeling the vibrations caused by the movement of its prey.
How Does the Cayenne Caecilian Defend Itself?
When attacked, the Cayenne Caecilian secretes a large amount of noxious mucous from slime glands all over its body.
This sticky substance helps deter predators, such as birds, snakes, and large fish, from eating it.
How Does the Cayenne Caecilian Reproduce?
During breeding time, a male and female Cayenne Caecilian wrap around each other, and the male deposits a spermatophore into the female’s cloaca.
Fertilization happens internally, and this species is ovoviviparous, which means that the young hatch inside the female’s oviduct with gills.
Development of the Young
At first, the young Cayenne Caecilians feed on the yolks of their eggs.
They later develop rasping teeth and start consuming glandular secretions produced by the lining of the oviduct.
After about eight months, the female gives birth to the young ones, which shed their temporary teeth and develop their adult dentition.
What Makes the Cayenne Caecilian Unique Among Other Caecilian Species?
Cayenne Caecilian has several characteristics that are more highly derived than those of other, more primitive caecilian species.
Some of these differences include lung structure, reproductive organs, and kidneys.
While the exact evolutionary relationships between caecilian species have not yet been determined, the Cayenne Caecilian’s karyotype, or chromosome structure, has been compared to that of other caecilians, and its diploid number has been found to be 28.
This fact doesn’t necessarily support the hypothesis that the number of chromosomes became reduced during amphibian evolution, but further research is needed to fully understand this relationship.