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article imageRare snake-like amphibian resembling penis found in Brazil

By JohnThomas Didymus     Aug 2, 2012 in Environment
Scientists have identified "blind snakes" found last year at the bottom of Brazil's Madeira River as rare amphibian species Atretochoana eiselti. People who have seen images of the animal, however, comment on its remarkable similarity to the human penis.
According to MSN Now, "The discovery is surely exciting for herpetologists, but perhaps not quite as much as for the British tabloids, which are tittering like schoolboys about the slithery creatures' resemblance to a certain male appendage."
The Sun comments on the similarity of the creatures to the "male appendage," while the Daily Mail says: "Scientists discover new species of 'blind snake' in Brazilian river that looks remarkably like a piece of the human anatomy (and stop sniggering)."
According to herpetologists, Atretochoana eiselti, informally dubbed "floppy snake," were found at the bottom of the Madeira River while engineers drained a hydroelectric dam in Brazil's northern state of Rondonia Scientists discovered six specimens of the "blind snakes," each about a meter long, closely related to the salamander.
The Sun dubs the creatures "Man-aconda," and reports the discovery was made in November last year when the river was being drained, but it is now being made public after the genus has been confirmed.
 Blind snake   atretochoana eiselti found in Brazil
"Blind snake," atretochoana eiselti found in Brazil
uliano Tupan/Divulgação
Biologists emphasize that in spite of the terms "blind snakes" and "floppy snakes," Atretochoana eiselti are not snakes but caecilian amphibians belonging to the order Gymnophiona. The resemblance to earthworms and snakes is only superficial. The fact that they live mostly underground makes it difficult to find them. Sightings of the rare amphibians have been reported since 1968. They are found mostly in the tropics of South and Central America, Africa and South Asia.
Very little is known about their diet, but they are described as having strong skulls and pointed snouts for burrowing. They have strong muscles adapted to pushing through the ground. Their skeleton and deep muscles act as pistons inside the skin, allowing the animal to anchor its rear end in position and force its head downwards and then pull the rest of the body after in waves. They swim like eel in water.
The Sun reports that Julian Tupan, a biologist from the Santo Antonio Energy company that is building the dam, said vey little is known about the amphibians that have no lungs and limbs. He said: "Of the six we collected, one died, three were released back into the wild and another two were kept for studies. Despite looking like snakes, they aren’t reptiles and are more closely related to salamanders and frogs. We think the animal breathes through its skin, and probably feeds on small fish and worms, but there is still nothing proven.The Amazon is a box of surprises when it comes to reptiles and amphibians. There are still much more to be discovered.”
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