Biology

Atretochoana eiselti is thought to breathe through its skin (cutaneous gas exchange). The absence of lungs is compensated for by skin that is richly supplied with capillaries which penetrate to the outer layer, the epidermis. It is presumed to be aquatic and probably lives in fast-flowing water.

The species has a radically divergent skull morphology that differs from all other caecilians in having:

  • a massively enlarged mouth (produced by a posteriorly displaced jaw articulation)
  • a highly mobile 'cheek'
  • very strange elongate stapes from which muscles unknown in any other organism originate

Nothing is known about the behaviour of A. eiselti, but it is likely to be a predator and/or scavenger.