The “trouser snake”: Bizarre amphibian found in Brazil

Snake-Like Amphibian Found In Brazil, Makes Us Blush | Geekosystem.

Last year, the Madeira River in Rondonia, Brazil was drained for a hydroelectric dam. At the very bottom, were six of these creatures, writhing about looking like penises, except that they’re all about 30 inches long. Now, biologists have confirmed that they are Atretochoana eiselti, an extremely rare species of caecilian with no known living population.

The A. eiselti were found last November, but the discovery was only made public after biologists confirmed the genus. Caecilians are limbless amphibians with rings like those of the earthworm. The A. eiselti is the largest tetrapod without lungs, breathing through its skin instead. It has fleshy dorsal fins on its back, and is thought to live in fast-flowing water.

Tip: Dr. Karl Shuker

Dr. Shuker has more on these strange animals which are getting a lot of attention just because it resembles the male member.


Atretochoana eiselti

During the past 24 hours, the world media has been full of stories concerning the supposed discovery in Brazil of a ‘new species’ of ‘blind snake’ that ‘resembles a human penis’. As is so often the case with media reports describing unusual, little-known animals, however, the truth is very different – as I shall now reveal in an attempt to set the facts straight regarding this beast once and for all.

In reality, although it is indisputably a most amazing and very distinctive form it is not a new species, it is not a snake, and its claimed afore-mentioned resemblance is very much in the eye of the beholder – or, to put it another way (so to speak!): if the relevant portion of my body looked like this creature, I’d be seriously worried!

Yeah, the Daily Mail is having a blast with this. But, really, the animals are interesting of themselves. They are not snakes. Caecilians are strange creatures with their own taxonomic order. They are not worms or snakes but amphibians with tiny or nonexistent eyes and some are LUNGLESS. Check out Dr. Shuker’s piece for more.

  9 comments for “The “trouser snake”: Bizarre amphibian found in Brazil

  1. Massachusetts
    August 4, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Very interesting and an exciting zoological discovery. It’s a very strange animal for sure.

    I bet it will be used as fodder for the cryptozoological arguments, a la “see, this strange new thing exists, so why not big foot and/or these other cryptids?” For one thing, it was found, caught and photographed, and studied physically enough to ascertain some things about it’s physiology.

  2. Dave Bailey
    August 4, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    If cryptozoologists try to claim that it makes the field more credible, I would be more impressed with that if they had predicted this before it was discovered. But every time something new is described to science, we can check the cryptozoological literature and find nothing to indicate that there was any suspicion of it beforehand.

    Sad. The field fascinates me, and it could be a legitimate branch of biology, but so few practise it that way.

  3. Vin
    August 6, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    I can imagine the workers…..I can bet these creatures demise was horrible set to the sound of penis jokes etc (I bet NOT ONE thought to put one of the poor things in a buket of water or something)……fortunately, although strange in apearance, these creatures were NOT unknown to science….sooooo, other than the ‘looks like a (uglier than most) penis’ and the general tragedy of their situation…….this animal is already known to science and there is nothing spooky or strange about it….it’s a Scientifically Described, Categorised and known creature, albeit rare (I think I even saw a doco with some of these amphibians a while back)…..I don’t get what the ‘cryptid hunters’ find so enticing about this whole sad debacle (perhaps some weird Freudian Thing?)…..Other than the “Why do they look like the Worlds Largest and Ugliest Human Cock?” thing, there’s nothing unusual or strange about these magnificent and ancient creatures (imagine… on the planet FINE for 180 000 000 or so years….Humans come along and they are gone within 100……as far as I’m concerned, THAT’S the ONLY thing that makes this tragic ‘piece’ ‘news’worthy)…….its ALSO a pretty typical immature, and predictably childish, Human Response….and we’re supposedly ‘smart’…

  4. Vin
    August 6, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    ok….so one died….3 were chopped up for ‘formal identification’ (which is DUMB, coz they ALREADY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE) and 2 were re-released…

  5. Ryuthrowsstuff
    August 7, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    If the cryptos did try to make such claims then it’d be pretty easy to ignore. These aren’t new, and neither are they a rediscovery of something we thought to be extinct. They’re just rare, lesser known, and under studied.

  6. Ryuthrowsstuff
    August 7, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology has done a couple blog posts about these things. He can get kind of technical at times, but he’s usually a pretty entertaining read. Here’s a couple articles from the older version of his blog.

  7. Gareth
    August 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    I’m sorry but there’s plenty that’s unusual about these animals. Initially they were only known from one or two isolated specimens. Also they’re the World’s largest species of caecilian, the only example without lungs and also the largest known lung less tetrapod. As well as being, I believe, the only extant example of their genus. How much more unusual would you like?

    Further, these animals along with many other apparently unspectacular, but none the less significant and interesting animals, were and are being discussed by cryptozoologists. I’m normally the first one to have a go when they spout off about yetis, sea serpents or other such nonsense, but fair play the good ones such as Nash and Shuker are about more than that.

  8. idoubtit
    August 7, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Oooh, thanks for posting those. I knew he had. Tet Zoo is one of my favorite blogs.

    I had pictures of caecilians in an animal card collection when I was a kid. They always fascinated me. So, I knew what they were from like age 9. Now look at me, still weird and STILL fascinated by them.

  9. idoubtit
    August 7, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    I love “new animal” stories even if the animals are not exactly new. There is still so much we can learn about them. I have never heard about these particular caecilians (but was familiar with them as an order).

    Even though they were brought to light because of their odd superficial resemblance, I’m glad more people know about them.

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