23/02/2012 07:34 GMT | Updated 23/02/2012 07:41 GMT

Chikilidae, Caecilians New Legless Amphibians Discovered In India (PICTURES)

A new family of legless amphibians has been found burrowing in the earth of a remote northeastern village in India.

The chikilidae stems from the caecilians family and is the most primitive of three amphibian groups that also include frogs and salamanders.

The worm-like creatures evolved separately from other caecilian species more than 140 million years ago and are endemic to the region, although with ancient links to Africa.

The find is significant in the study of prehistoric species migration, as well as evolutionary paths influenced by continental shift, CBS News said.

The discovery, published this week in a journal of the Royal Society of London, was made by a team of biologists, led by Professor Sathyabhama Das Biju, of the University of Delhi.

Professor Biju told AP: “This is a major hotspot of biological diversity, but one of the least explored.”

The name chikilidae was chosen because it mirrors what the locals call it in their Garo language.

He added: “We hope when the locals see the name, and their language, being used across the world, they will understand this animal’s importance and join in trying to save it.

“India’s biodiversity is fast depleting. We are destroying these habitats without mercy.”