Naked snakes of the North Eastern Region of India

Chikila gaiduwani on a leaf

Chikila gaiduwani, one of the newly-discovered chikilid species from the North Eastern Region of India

Principal Investigator

Dr Rachunliu Kamei

Project summary

This project aims to better understand the natural history and evolution of chikilid and ichthyophiid caecilians of the North Eastern Region of India.

The region, which is known to be biologically rich, remained largely unexplored for caecilians until 2009.

However, our work shows that caecilians of northeast India are more special than anticipated. We recently described a new family of caecilians from the North Eastern Region of India, demonstrating that it is an ancient lineage with closest extant relatives in Africa.

This project is using a combination of genetic, morphological, anatomical, life history, and distribution data to study these caecilians in greater depth.

We also aim to assess the extent to which the North Eastern Region of India is a discrete biodiversity and conservation hotspot and biogeographical unit (rather than simply a gateway between the Himalaya and Indo-Burma hotspots).

Fieldwork in northeast India

Dr Kamei searching for caecilians

Museum staff


Kamei R, Gower D, Wilkinson M, Biju, SD (2013) Systematics of the caecilian family Chikilidae (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), with description of three new species of Chikila from northeast India. Zootaxa, 3666(4): 401–435.

Kamei R, San Mauro D, Gower D, Van Bocxlaer I, Sherratt E, Thomas A, Babu S, Bossuyt F, Wilkinson M, Biju S (2012) Discovery of a new family of amphibians from northeast India with ancient links to Africa. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 279: 2396–2401.

Kamei R, Wilkinson M, Gower D, Biju S (2009) Three new species of striped Ichthyophis (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) from the northeast Indian states of Manipur and Nagaland. Zootaxa, 2267: 26–42.

Funded by

Origins, evolution and futures

We study the Earth's origins, environment and the evolution of life.


Determining the diversity, biogeography, taxonomy and phylogeny of vertebrates.

Zoology collections

Our zoology collection has 29 million animal specimens and is rich in voucher, type and historical specimens.