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Giant Lungless “Worm” Found Living on Land

November 20, 2009
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A new amphibian species can survive on land with no nostrils, lungs, or legs, say researchers who discovered the bizarre beast.

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, the study authors note.

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.

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