The Reproductive Biology of Caecilians: An Evolutionary Perspective

  • Marvalee H. Wake


Caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) are elongate, limbless, burrowing or swimming animals. They are pan-tropical in distribution and, until recently, infrequently seen by collectors. The relationships of caecilians to other amphibians are enigmatic (Carroll and Currie 1975), and relationships among caecilian genera and species are poorly understood. The acquisition of the attenuate habitus has been accompanied by changes of suites of morphological features, including those of the reproductive system. Concomitantly, a number of aspects of the physiology and ecology of the group have adapted, so that features of the reproductive biology and life histories of caecilians provide considerable information of use in analyzing patterns of evolution.


Corpus Luteum Reproductive Biology Reproductive Mode Mullerian Duct Internal Fertilization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Barrio, A. 1969. Observaciónes sobre Chthonerpeton indistinctum (Gymnophiona, Caecilidae) y su reproduccion. Physis 28: 449–503.Google Scholar
  2. Bloom, W. and D. W. Fawcett. 1968. A textbook of histology. Ninth Ed. W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  3. Bond, A. N. 1960. An analysis of the response of salamander gills to changes in the oxygen concentration of the medium. Dev. Biot. 2:1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brauer, A. 1897. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Entwicklungsgeschichte und der Anatomie der Gymnophionen. Zool. Jahrb. Anat. 10:389–472.Google Scholar
  5. Brauer, A. 1899. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Entwicklung und Anatomie der Gymnophionen. II. Entwicklung der aussern Form. Zool. Jahrb. Anat.12:477–508.Google Scholar
  6. Brauer, A. 1902. Entw. Anat. der Gymnophionen. III. Entw. der Excretionsorgane. Zool. Jahrb. Abt. Anat. 16: 1–176.Google Scholar
  7. Carroll, R. L. and P. J. Currie. 1975. Microsaurs as possible apodan ancestors. Zool. J. Linn. Soc.57:229–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Corben, C. J., G. J. Ingram and M. J. Tyler. 1974. Gastric brooding: unique form of parental care in an Australian frog. Science 186:946–947.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallien, L. 1959. Endocrine basis for reproductive adaptations in Amphibia. IN: A. Gorbman (ed.), Comparative endocrinology. Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, New York, pp. 479–487.Google Scholar
  10. Gans, C. 1961. The first record of egg laying in Siphonops paulensis Boettger. Copeia 1961:490–491.Google Scholar
  11. Goeldi, E. A. 1899. Uber die Entwicklung von Siphonops annulatus. Zool. Jahrb. Syst.12:170–173.Google Scholar
  12. Joly, J. 1961. Le cycle sexuel biennial chez la femelle de Salamandra salamandra quadri-virgata dans les hautes-Pyrénées. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris 252:3145–3147.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Joly, J. and B. Picheral. 1972. Ultrastructure, histochimie, et physiologie du follicule pre-ovulatoire et du corps jaune de l’urodele ovo-vivipare Salamandra salamandra (L.) Gen. Comp. Endo. 18:235–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lamotte, M., P. Rey and M. Vogeli. 1964. Recherches sur l’ovaire de Nectophrynoides occidentalis batracien anoure vivipare. Arch. Anat. Mic. Morph. Exp.53:179–244.Google Scholar
  15. Lamotte, M. and F. Xavier. 1972. Rechèrches sur le devèloppement embryonnaire de Nectophrynoides occidentalis Angel, amphibien anoure vivipare. I. Les principaux traits morphologiques et biometriques du developpement. Ann. Emb. et Morph. 5: 315–340.Google Scholar
  16. Largen, M. J., P. A. Morris and D. W. Yalden. 1972. Observations on the caecilian Geotrypetes grandisonae Taylor (Amphibia: Gymnophiona) from Ethiopia. Monitore Zool. Italiano, NS Supplemento IV, No. 8:185–205.Google Scholar
  17. Lawson, R. 1963. The anatomy of Hypogeophis rostratus Cuvier (Amphibia, Apoda) Part I. The skin and skeleton. Proc. Univ. Durham Phil. Soc. 13:254–273.Google Scholar
  18. Lawson, R. 1965a. The teeth of Hypogeophis rostratus (Amphibia, Apoda), and tooth structure in the Amphibia. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 145:321–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lawson, R. 1965b. The development and replacement of teeth of Hypogeophis rostratus (Amphibia, Apoda). J. Zool. 147:352–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lawson, R. 1966a. The anatomy of the heart of Hypogeophis rostra-tus (Amphibia, Apoda) and its possible mode of action. J. Zool. London 149:320–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lawson, R. 1966b. The development of the centrum of Hypogeophis rostratus (Amphibia, Apoda) with special reference to the notochordal (intravertebral) cartilage. J. Morph. 118:137–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lodge, P. D. B. and C. L. Smith. 1960. Hormonal control of secretion in the oviduct of the Amphibia. Nature 185:774–775.Google Scholar
  23. Lofts, B. 1974. Reproduction. IN: B. Lofts (ed.), Physiology of the Amphibia vol. 2. Academic Press, New York, New York, pp. 107–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marcus, H. 1908. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. I. über das Schlundspaltengebeit. Arch. f. mik. Anat. 71:695–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marcus, H. 1909. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. III. über Entwicklungsgeschichte des Kopfes. Morph. Jahrb.40:105–183.Google Scholar
  26. Marcus, H. 1920. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. VIII. Uber die Zähne and Korrelation ihrer Zahl mit dem Alter. D. Zahnheilkunde. 30: 145–157.Google Scholar
  27. Marcus, H. 1922. Der Kehlkopf bei Hypogeophis. Anat. Anz.1:188–202.Google Scholar
  28. Marcus, H. 1939. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. Uber Keimbahn, Keimdrusen, Fettkörper u. Urogenitalverbindung bei Hypogeophis. Bio-Morphosis 1:360–384.Google Scholar
  29. Nelsen, O. E. 1953. Comparative embryology of the vertebrates. Constable and Co., London.Google Scholar
  30. Norris, H. and S. P. Hughes. 1918. The cranial and anterior spinal nerves of the caecilian amphibians. J. Morph. 31:489–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Parker, H. W. 1936. The caecilians of the Mamfe Division, Cameroons. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1936:135–163.Google Scholar
  32. Parker, H. W. 1956. Viviparous caecilians and amphibian phylogeny. Nature 178:250–252.Google Scholar
  33. Parker, H. W. 1958. Caecilians of the Seychelles Islands with description of a new subspecies. Copeia 1958:71–76.Google Scholar
  34. Parker, H. W. and E. R. Dunn. 1964. Dentitional metamorphosis in the Amphibia. Copeia 1964:75–85.Google Scholar
  35. Peters, W. 1874. Uber die Entwicklung der Caecilien und besonders der Caecilia compressicauda. Monats. Aka. der Wiss. Berlin 1874:45–49.Google Scholar
  36. Peters, W. 1874. Uber die Entwicklung der Caecilien. Monats. Aka. der Wiss. Berlin 1875:483–493.Google Scholar
  37. Ramaswami, L. S. 1954. External gills of Gegenophis embryos. Anat. Anz. 101:120–122.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Salthe, S. N. and J. S. Mecham. 1974. Reproductive and courtship patterns. IN: B. Lofts (Ed.), Physiology of the Amphibia vol. 2. Academic Press, New York, New York, pp. 309–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sanderson, I. T. 1937. Animal treasure. Pyramid Books, New York, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Sarasin, P. and F. Sarasin. 1887–90. Ergebnisse naturwissenschaftlichen. Forschungen auf Ceylon in den Jahren 1884–1886. Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte u. anat. der Ceylonische Blindwuhle Ichthyophis glutinosus. C. W. Kreidel’s Verlag, Wiesbaden.Google Scholar
  41. Semon, R. 1892. Studien Tiber den Bauplan des Urogenitalsystem der Wirbeltiere. Dargelegt an der Entwicklung dieses Organsystems. Jena Zeitschr. Naturwiss.26:80–203.Google Scholar
  42. Seshachar, B. L. 1936. The spermatogenesis of Ichthyophis glutinosus L. The spermatogonia and their division. Z. Forsch. 24: 662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Seshachar, B. L. 1937. Spermatogenesis of Ichthyophis glutinosus II. The meiotic divisions. Z. Forsch. 27:133–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Seshachar, B. L. 1939. The apodan sperm. Curr. Sci. Bangalore 9: 464–465.Google Scholar
  45. Seshachar, B. L. 1942a. Stages in the spermatogenesis of Siphonops annulatus and Dermophis gregorii (Boul.). Proc. Ind. Aca. Sci. 15 B:263–277.Google Scholar
  46. Seshachar, B. L. 1942b. Eggs and embryos of Gegenophis carnosus. Curr. Sci.11:439.Google Scholar
  47. Seshachar, B. L. 1943. Spermatogenesis of Ichthyophis glutinosus Lin. III. Spermatelosis. Proc. Nat. Inst. Sci. India 9:271–286.Google Scholar
  48. Seshachar, B. L. 1945. Spermatelosis in Uraeot,phlus narayani Sesh. and Gegenophis carnosus Bedd. Proc. Nat. Inst. Sci. India 11:366–340.Google Scholar
  49. Spengel, J. W. 1876. Das Urogenitalsystem der Amphibian. I. Theil, Per anatomische Bau des Urogenitalsystem. Arbeiten aus dem Zoologzootom. Inst. in Wurzburg 3:61–114.Google Scholar
  50. Taylor, E. H. 1960. On the caecilian species Ichthyophis glutino sus and Ichthyophis monochrous with description of related species. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 50:37–120.Google Scholar
  51. Taylor, E. H. 1965. New Asiatic and African caecilians with a redescription of certain other species. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 46:253–302.Google Scholar
  52. Taylor, E. H. 1968. The caecilians of the world: A taxonomic review. Univ. Kansas Press, Tawrence, Kansas.Google Scholar
  53. Taylor, E. H. 1969. A new family of African Gymnophiona. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull.48:297–305.Google Scholar
  54. Taylor, E. H. 1970. The lateral-line sensory system in the caecilian family Ichthyophiidae (Amphibia: Gymnophiona). Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull.48:861–868.Google Scholar
  55. Tonutti, E. 1931. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. XV. Das Génitalsystem. Morph. Jahrb.68:151–292.Google Scholar
  56. Tonutti, E. 1932. Vergleichende morphologische Studien über Enddarm and Kopulationsorgane. Morph. Jahrb.70:101–130.Google Scholar
  57. Tonutti, E. 1933. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Gymnophionen. XIX. Kopulationsorgane bis weiteren Gymnophionenarten. Morph. Jahrb. 72:155–211.Google Scholar
  58. Vilter, V. and A. Vilter. 1960. Sur la gestation de la salamandre noire des Alpes, Salamandra atra Laur. C. R. Soc. Biol. Paris 154:290–291.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Vilter, V. and A. Vilter. 1964. Sur l’évolution des corps jaunes ovariens chez Salamandra atra Taur. des Alpes Vaudoises. C. R. Soc. Biol. Paris 158:467–461.Google Scholar
  60. Vilter, V. and A. Lugano. 1959. Rechèrches sur le détèrminisme interne et externe du corps jaune gestatif chez le crapaud vivipare du Mont Nimba, le Nectophrynoides occidentalis de la Haute Guinee. C. R. Soc. Biol. Paris. 153:294–297.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Wake, M. H. 1967. Gill structure in the caecilian genus Gymnopis. Bull. So. Calif. Acad. Sci. 66:109–116.Google Scholar
  62. Wake, M. H. 1968. Evolutionary morphology of the caecilian urogenital system. Part I. The gonads and fat bodies. J. Morph. 126:291–332.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wake, M. H. 1969. Gill ontogeny in Gymnopis. Copeia 1969:183–184.Google Scholar
  64. Wake. M. H. 1970. Evolutionary morphology of the caecilian urogenital system. Part II. The kidneys and urogenital ducts. Acta Anatomica 75: 321–358.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wake, M. H. 1972. Evolutionary morphology of the caecilian urogenital system. Part IV. The cloaca. J. Morph. 136:353–366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wake, M. H. 1974. The comparative morphology of the caecilian lung. Anat. Rec. 178:483.Google Scholar
  67. Wake, M. H. 1976. The development and replacement of teeth in viviparous caecilians. J. Morph. 148:33–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wake, M. H. 1977. Fetal maintenance and its evolutionary significance in the Amphibia: Gymnophiona. J. Herp. (in press).Google Scholar
  69. Wiedersheim, R. 1879. Die Anatomie der Gymnophionen. Verlag von Gustav Fischer, Jena.Google Scholar
  70. Xavier, F., M. Zuber-Vogeli and Y. LeQuang Trong. 1970. Rechèrches sur l’activité endocrine de l’ovaire de Nectophrynoides occidentalis Angel (Amphibien anoure vivipare). Gen. Comp. Endo. 15:425–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marvalee H. Wake
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Museum of Vertebrate ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations