Caecillians, or ‘naked snakes’ don’t get a lot of press coverage. These shiny, slippery, wormy things have yet to feature on the otherwise comprehensive wildlife calendar that great aunt Londonist insists on buying us each Christmas. An upcoming event at the Zoological Society of London aims to draw greater attention to these surprisingly intriguing beasties. Here’s the science bit:
A small yet diverse group, caecilians are characterised by a largely tropical distribution, elongate and limbless bodies, and enigmatic behaviour. Modern caecilians evolved from limbed ancestors and have several peculiar adaptations, including a pair of protrusible sensory tentacles, eyes covered by skin and/or bone, and scales embedded in pockets within the skin.
Everybody loves a good protrusible sensory tentacle. Especially renowned amphibian petter Ken Livingstone. On 7 December, the former mayor will chair an evening of caecillian exploration, with talks by four scientists from the Natural History Museum, ZSL and Friedrich-Schiller-Universität.
The Secret World of Naked Snakes takes place at ZSL on 7 December from 6pm, and is free to attend with no advance booking. An optional dinner with the speakers afterwards must be booked in advance (although once you’ve heard about the caecillian skin-eating behaviour, you might not be so hungry). Image by Teague-o published under creative commons license.