Ringed Caecilian Mothers Feed Their Offspring MilkThe hatchlings congregated around the tail of the mother. And it was at the tail that a milky secretion was discharged and vigorously eaten by the offspring. Photo by Carlos Jared

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Ringed Caecilian Mothers Feed Their Offspring Milk

The milk contained lipids and sugars, like that found in mammalian milk.

The hatchlings congregated around the tail of the mother. And it was at the tail that a milky secretion was discharged and vigorously eaten by the offspring.

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Female ringed caecilians (Siphonops annulatus) a species of amphibian native to South America feeds their offspring a “milk” after they hatch, according to a study published in the journal Science.

While the offspring of the ringed caecilian was known to feed on the mother’s skin at least once a week, the researchers set out to find why the offspring were so active, so they placed a camera in the nest to observe what was going on.

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What they found was the hatchlings congregated around the tail of the mother. And it was at the tail that a milky secretion was discharged and vigorously eaten by the offspring. The researchers then studied the milk and found that it contained lipids and sugars, like that found in mammalian milk. The caecilian milk was providing the same function as mammalian milk.


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“It’s a very unusual form of nutrition” for an egg-laying animal,” Pedro Luiz Mailho-Fontana, one of the researchers conducting the study told National Public Radio. An abstract of the study, “Milk provisioning in oviparous caecilian amphibians” can be read on the Science website.

 

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