Snake-like Amphibian Siphonops annulatus Have Venom Glands, New Study Says

The ringed caecilian has venom glands with the same origin of reptile venom glands.
Siphonops Annulatus
Siphonops Annulatus secretes poisons, new study says. Photo by Dias I, Medeiros T, Vila Nova M, Solé M /Wikipedia

Caecilians, amphibians with a snake-like body that often look like earthworms are interesting animals. Cryptic yet interesting at the same time. And the fact that they look like super-sized earthworms is just way too cool!

The ringed caecilian (Siphonops annulatus), one of many different species of caecilian, has snake-like venom glands amongst its teeth, according to a study published in the journal iScience.

The researchers, in their paper, report the glands have the same origin of reptile venom glands and the secretion contains proteins with enzymatic activities commonly found in venoms secretion contains proteins with enzymatic activities commonly found in venoms. They also write that caecilians may have developed the capability early in evolution to inject oral toxins.

“We show here that amphibian caecilians, including species from the basal groups, besides having cutaneous poisonous glands as other amphibians do, possess specific glands at the base of the teeth that produce enzymes commonly found in venoms,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Our analysis of the origin of these glands shows that they originate from the same tissue that gives rise to teeth, similar to the venom glands in reptiles. We speculate that caecilians might have independently developed mechanisms of production and injection of toxins early in their evolutionary history.”

The complete paper, “Morphological Evidence for an Oral Venom System in Caecilian Amphibians” can be read on the iScience website.

Categories: Frog & Amphibians Information & News