The caecilian is the yummiest mummy you will ever meet, she’s rather attractive, has a great pair of lungs on her, and she likes a good root…
… sorry just pouring out a Scotch… where were we… ah yes she likes a good root around underground… spending much of her time deep in soil.
Though caecilians look like a liquorice whip had a rather racy night with an earthworm they are in fact amphibians, yes quite… like frogs and salamanders. You’d be forgiven in thinking that you haven’t seen this filly around either as they are rather elusive, as we mentioned they spend the best part of their life underground. Not surprisingly they are rather short-sighted and can only just make out the difference between light and dark.
The caecilians grow up to one and a half metres long and all but one species have a pair of lungs… one lung is bigger than the other so it fits better in that lithe yummy mummy body… indeed the snakes have similar odd shaped lungs. The single caecilian species that doesn’t have lungs is rather a small chap, he doesn’t need lungs as he can get enough oxygen deep enough into his weeny system through his amphibious skin.
Oooh right… yes marvellous… this is the perfect time to discuss an honorary member of The Proceedings; J.B.S Haldane. Professor Haldane is perhaps most famous for his principle, put simply; body size defines what body bits an animal needs. Take for example air-breathing systems; tiny insects can take in oxygen in through their skin from their surrounds, but large mammals have had to develop incredibly complex lung and circulatory systems to get oxygen to their nether regions. So as Haldane’s principle predicts; a big caecilian has had to evolve lungs and a little one has in fact done away with them.
While we’re on the subject the second thing that J.B.S. Haldane was known for is being a bon vivant… he really was a smasher and is dearly missed by us all. Once asked what he felt God must be like he quipped he must have ”An inordinate fondness for beetles” referring to the fact that about 25% of all known living things on the planet are beetles. Later, in a series of rather dangerous experiments on himself, he perforated an eardrum and afterwards stated quite matter of factly “the drum generally heals up; and if a hole remains in it, although one is somewhat deaf, one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question… which is a social accomplishment.” Marvellous fellow!
Right where were we… aaah yes the rather wonderful caecilia… aaah on to nuptials… we usually get around to this sooner or later. The caecilians are the only amphibian that have a penis-like organ… apart from a rather happy looking frog that lives in fast flowing streams. After all the rumpy pumpy the caecilians give birth to live young, and this is where the yummy mummy part comes in… as the wee ones like nothing less than eating their mother. Yes these little wrigglers begin in the womb, chomping away at the womb lining, some species even continue to eat their mother after they are born… tearing chunks from her skin and greedily gobbling them down… as we were saying the caecilian… a really really yummy mummy.