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Tropical caecilians
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Gymnophiona
Family: Scolecomorphidae
Taylor, 1969


The Scolecomorphidae are the family of tropical caecilians (Frost) or African caecilians (ITIS). They are found in Cameroon in West Africa, and Malawi and Tanzania in East Africa. Caecilians are legless amphibians which superficially resemble worms or snakes.

Scolecomorphids have only vestigial eyes, which are attached to the base of a pair of tentacles underneath the snout. Unlike other caecilians, they have only primary annuli; these are grooves running incompletely around the body, giving the animal a segmented appearance. All other caecilians have a complex pattern of grooves, with secondary or tertiary annuli present. Also uniquely amongst tetrapods, the scolecomorphids lack a stapes bone in the middle ear.[1]

At least some species of scolecomorphids give birth to live young, retaining the eggs inside the females' bodies until they hatch into fully formed offspring, without the presence of a free-living larval stage.[1]


Just six species of scolecomorphids are known, grouped into two genera, as follows:

Family Scolecomorphidae

  • Genus Crotaphatrema Nussbaum, 1985
  • Genus Scolecomorphus Boulenger, 1883[2]
    • S. kirkii Boulenger, 1883, Kirk's caecilian or Lake Tanganyika caecilian, East Africa
    • S. uluguruensis Barbour and Loveridge, 1928, Uluguru black caecilian or Nyingwa caecilian, Tanzania
    • S. vittatus (Boulenger, 1895), ribbon caecilian or banded caecilian, Tanzania


  1. ^ a b Nussbaum, Ronald A. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G., eds. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 
  2. ^ Frost, Darrel R. (2016). "Scolecomorphus Boulenger, 1883". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 28 August 2016.