Specific Creatures Feed Microbes to Their Offspring

Specific Creatures Feed Microbes to Their Offspring

In the realm of caecilians, bizarre parenting takes the spotlight! Picture this: limbless amphibians that look like a mix of worms and snakes, leading secretive lives buried in soil or stream beds. Now, brace yourself for the incredible revelation about their motherly ways that’ll make you go, “Wait, what?!”

Turns out, caecilian mothers grow a fatty skin layer for their offspring to feast on, as ScienceAlert reveals. The little caecilians remorselessly tear off and devour their mom’s skin like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. But there’s more to this slimy feast – it provides nourishment and a starter kit of microbes for the young ones’ own microbe entourage!

Some caecilian species even take parenting to the next level. After the skin-feeding frenzy, they stick around, coiling up with their offspring. It’s a caecilian slumber party like none other!

Researchers are intrigued by this peculiar parenting style. The Congo caecilian, which is also known as Herpele squalostoma, has been under the microscope for this unique trait. Through careful study, they found that these babies inherit their microbial buddies from their moms. Forget the “birds and the bees” talk – this is a microbial masterclass in amphibian parenting!

David Blackburn, the senior author of the new study, explained:

This study is a bit like going out into the world and figuring out all the frogs that live in a forest,

We might find ground frogs, tree frogs, and burrowing frogs; big species and small; ones that breed in this way or that way.

Based on those characteristics, you could start inferring what role they play in the forest ecosystem, which is what we’d like to do with the caecilian microbiome.

As scientists explore the mysteries of these limbless creatures, they hope to understand more about their biology and ecological roles. So, next time you spot a worm-like creature, you should remember the enchanting world of caecilians and their extraordinary maternal buffet!

The new research appears in Animal Microbiome.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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