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New family of amphibians discovered in northeast India

(Xinhua)

14:39, February 22, 2012

NEW DELHI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Indian scientists have claimed the discovery of an entirely new family of amphibians in the forests in northeastern part of the country.

A team, led by Delhi University Professor S.D. Biju, has found the new family of legless amphibians commonly known as caecilians in the forests of North East India.

The new family has been named Chikilidae -- which means Caecilian in Garo, the local tribal language -- consisting of tailless burrowing caecilians which evolved separately from other caecilian species more than 140 million years ago.

Its closest relatives are found in Africa, which shows that it existed before the Indian subcontinent broke away from the African landmass.

Dr. Biju considers the discovery a landmark.

"We used DNA mechanism to understand how dispersal mechanism happened from India to Africa or maybe we can say out of India hypothesis. So, we can say that one animal in northeastern part of India almost evolved 140 million years ago than the African animals," he was quoted as saying by local media on Wednesday.

Caecilians are neither venomous nor are they snakes. They never bite. They open their mouth only for feeding.

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