Rhinatrema bivittatum was originally described as Caecilia bivittata (Cuvier in Guérin-Méneville 1829), and later placed in its own genus by Duméril and Bibron (1841).
Nussbaum (1977) erected the family Rhinatrematidae (containing the genera Epicrionops and Rhinatrema), of which Rhinatrema is the type genus.
Rhinatrema bivittatum was the only species of Rhinatrema known at that time. The type specimen of R. bivittatum was collected from French Guiana and is in the collection of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France.
In 2010, a second species of Rhinatrema, R. shiv, was described from Guyana (Gower et al 2010).
This new species looks superficially similar to R. bivittatum, but is clearly distinct in DNA sequence data as well as many detailed morphological features, including:
Although morphological and DNA data support the view that Rhinatrematidae is the sister group to all other caecilians (Wilkinson 1992, 1996; San Mauro et al 2004, 2005; Frost et al 2006; Wilkinson and Nussbaum 2006; Roelants et al 2007; San Mauro 2010), phylogenetic relationships within the Rhinatrematidae have not been examined in detail.