Milk provisioning in oviparous caecilian amphibians

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Among vertebrates, the yolk is commonly the only form of nutritional investment offered by the female to the embryo. Some species, however, have developed parental care behaviors associated with specialized food provisioning essential for offspring survival, such as the production of lipidic-rich parental milk in mammals. Here, we show that females of the egg-laying caecilian amphibian Siphonops annulatus provide similarly lipid-rich milk to altricial hatchlings during parental care. We observed that for 2 months, S. annulatus babies ingested milk released through the maternal vent seemingly in response to tactile and acoustic stimulation by the babies. The milk, composed mainly of lipids and carbohydrates, originates from the maternal oviduct epithelium’s hypertrophied glands. Our data suggest lactation in this oviparous nonmammalian species and expand the knowledge of parental care and communication in caecilians.
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