MALI: Scientists have discovered a new species of legless amphibian in the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia. Called Ichthyophis cardamomensis, the new species is a caecilian.
The caecilians are an order of amphibians that look very much like snakes or earthworms. Unlike the majority of amphibians, caecilians mostly live hidden in the ground. They are found in the tropical areas of southern Asia, Africa, Central and South America. The larger species can be up to 1.5 meters long.
Scientists at Fauna & Flora International and the Royal University of Phnom Penh, who made the discovery, said this species is only 30 cm long.
FFI herpetologist Neang Thy, who has been researching reptiles and amphibians for the past 13 years, says he is very excited that the I. cardamomensis has been officially confirmed.
The latest discovery is one of three new species of unstriped Ichthyophis caecelians. The other two were discovered in Vietnam.
Cambodian species samples were gathered by Neang Thy and Dr. Lee Grismer from the US La Sierra University in Riverside, California. Lead author Dr. Peter Geissler, from the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, gave the final confirmation.
This latest discovery is only the second caecilian species to be discovered in Cambodia. The other was the striped Koa Tao Island caeciliean (I. kohtaoensis), which can also be found in Vietnam, Thailadn, Myanmar and Laos.
“These discoveries are important to demonstrate that much of Cambodia’s biodiversity remains unknown and unstudied by science, and many more areas need to be searched.”