Unusual creatures have been discovered in the north-east of India. The creatures resemble worms or snakes, although they represent a new family of amphibians.
They are tailless and legless burrowing amphibians. The scientists took pictures of the rare finding. The photos show some of the creatures protecting their own eggs, The Times of India said.
"DNA analysis has confirmed that this is an entirely new family," S.D. Biju, a professor at the University of Delhi who led the project with team members from Britain and Belgium said.
"Habitat destruction is a big problem for amphibians worldwide, and discoveries like this prove that we must protect the environment to save parts of the natural world we know little about," he said.
Local residents kill the rare and harmless amphibians because they take them for snakes.
The new family was called Chikilidae, which is a name used by local tribes. Females protect their eggs for two or three months and receive absolutely no food during this period.
"We hope when the locals see the name, and their language, being used across the world, they will understand this animal's importance and join in trying to save it," Biju said. "India's biodiversity is fast depleting. We are destroying these habitats without mercy."
Biju - a botanist-turned-herpetologist now celebrated as India's "Frogman" - has made it his life work to find and catalog new species. There are too many cases of "nameless extinction," with animals disappearing before they are ever known, he said.
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