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Unique new amphibian family found in India

Once thought to be a deadly, miniature snake, a legless amphibian in India has now been identified as entirely new to science, The Associated Press reports.

The chikilidae, discovered by a team of biologists from the University of Delhi who spent more than five years digging through the forest floors in the northeast portion of the country, is said to have existed alongside the dinosaurs, the news outlet reports. The snake-like amphibians, commonly known as caecilians, are endemic to the wet region, but also have relatives in Africa, suggesting that it existed before the Indian subcontinent broke away from Africa more than 140 million years ago, according to The Times of India

The discovery is also interesting for what it means for the region and for efforts to save animals like these to keep India's biodiversity, the researchers say.

"This is a major hotspot of biological diversity, but one of the least explored," lead researcher Sathyabhama Das Biju, of the University of Delhi, told the AP. "We hope this new family will show the importance of funding research in the area. We need to know what we have, so we can know what to save."
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