Skin gland concentrations adapted to different evolutionary pressures in the head and posterior regions of the caecilian Siphonops annulatus
Amphibian skin is rich in mucous glands and poison glands, secreting substances important for gas exchange and playing a fundamental role in chemical defense against predators and microorganisms. In the caecilian Siphonops annulatus (Mikan, 1920) we observed a concentration of enlarged mucous glands in the head region. In the posterior region of the body a similar concentration is made up of enlarged poison glands. These accumulations of glands structurally resemble the macroglands previously reported in anurans and salamanders. The skin glands in these regions are each surrounded by collagen walls forming a honeycomb-like structure. The collagen network in the head region firmly attaches to tiny pits in the bones of the skull. The two extremities of the body produce different secretions, containing exclusive molecules. Considering the fossorial lifestyle of caecilians, it seems evident that the secretions of the head and caudal region serve different functions. The anterior macrogland of mucous glands, rich in mucous/lipid secretion, in conjunction with the funnel-shaped head, may act to lubricate the body and penetrate the soil, thus facilitating locomotion underground. The blunt posterior end bearing an internalized macrogland of poison glands in the dermis may act in chemical defense and/or by blocking invasion of tunnels.
Jared C, Mailho-Fontana PL, Marques-Porto R, Sciani JM, Pimenta DC, Brodie ED. J., et al. Skin gland concentrations adapted to different evolutionary pressures in the head and posterior regions of the caecilian Siphonops annulatus. Sci Rep-UK. 2018 Feb;8:3576. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22005-5.
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