Until 2011, this tropical amphibian was presumed to be extinct, as no living populations had ever been discovered.
It is an extremely rare species of caecilian, and the largest known lungless tetrapod, which means it breathes through its skin. Biologists have confirmed the species as Atretochoana eiselti.
Six of them were found after the Madeira River in Rondonia, Brazil, was drained for a hydroelectric dam. At the bottom of the river, there they were.
With a broad, flat head and a fleshy dorsal fin on its body, at first glance the A. eiselti looks a lot like a large worm or snake — even strangely similar to a… well… you know!
Until its discovery, only two preserved specimens were known in the world.
Julian Tupan, a biologist from Santo Antonio Energy, the company building the dam, told The Sun:
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.
Check out the photos of the penises, I mean, the atretochoana eiselti pictures in the slide show above.