According to a news report from the Florida Museum of Natural History, a worm-like amphibian called a caecilian, pronounced ‘Sicilian,’ was discovered in the Tamiami Canal. It is the first of its kind to be found in the United States.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission uncovered legless creatures in the canal, located a mile south of the Miami International Airport.
The word ‘Caecilian’ is derived from the Latin word ‘caecus,’ which means ‘blind’ due to their nonexistent or small eyes. Instead of eyeballs, Caecilians use sensory tentacle-like appendages on their heads to locate food.
These aquatic creatures are extraordinarily ancient and have been around since before the age of dinosaurs.
The caecilian species discovered in Miami belonged to the Typhlonectes natans variety, commonly found in Venezuela and Colombia. They were possibly descendants of discarded pets that former owners did not want anymore.
The museum’s herpetology collection manager, Coleman Sheehy, assured the public that caecilians are not dangerous and do not appear to be serious predators, and could just be another non-native species in the South Florida mix.
This was a huge surprise; we will conduct more fieldwork and try to figure out the situation, she added.