Scolecomorphidae Taylor, 1969

Class: Amphibia > Order: Gymnophiona > Family: Scolecomorphidae
6 species

Scolecomorphidae  Taylor, 1969, Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull., 48: 297. Type genus: Scolecomorphus Boulenger, 1883.

ScolecomorphoidesLescure, Renous, and Gasc, 1986, Mem. Soc. Zool. France, 43: 159. Hyperfamily.

ScolecomorphoideaLescure, Renous, and Gasc, 1986, Mem. Soc. Zool. France, 43: 159. Superfamily.

ScolecomorphoidaeLescure, Renous, and Gasc, 1986, Mem. Soc. Zool. France, 43: 159. Epifamily.

ScolecomorphinaeLescure, Renous, and Gasc, 1986, Mem. Soc. Zool. France, 43: 159. Subfamily.

English Names

Tropical Caecilians (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 26).

Buried-eyed Caecilians (Vitt and Caldwell, 2009, Herpetology, 3rd Ed.: 417; Channing and Rödel, 2019, Field Guide Frogs & Other Amph. Afr.: 30).


Cameroon in West Africa and Malawi and Tanzania in East Africa.


Nussbaum, 1979, Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan, 687, provided evidence that Scolecomorphidae is the sister-taxon of Caeciliidae + Typhlonectidae. The family was redefined and species discussed by Nussbaum, 1985, Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan, 713. Wilkinson, Loader, Gower, Sheps, and Cohen, 2003, Afr. J. Herpetol., 52: 83-92, suggested that Scolecomorphidae is imbedded within Caeciliidae, rendering the latter paraphyletic. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 168, recognized Scolecomorphinae as a monophyletic subfamily within Caeciliidae, but did not recognize a coordinate Caeciliinae, which would have been paraphyletic. Roelants, Gower, Wilkinson, Loader, Biju, Guillaume, Moriau, and Bossuyt, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 887-892, on the basis of less inclusive sampling, a moderately different molecular dataset, and a different analytical method found Scolecomorphinae to form the sister taxon of their remaining caeciliid exemplars. Menegon, Doggart, and Owen, 2008, Acta Herpetol., Firenze, 3: 107-127, reported an undescribed species from the Nguru Mountains of eastern Tanzania. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543-583 (see comment in Amphibia record) on the basis of molecular evidence suggested that Crotaphatrema is the sister taxon of Scolecomorphus and Scolecomorphidae is the sister taxon of all caecilians other than Ichthyophiidae and Rhinatrematidae. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39-55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon. Maddin, Russell, and Anderson, 2012, Zool. J. Linn. Soc., 166: 160-201, reported on the braincase of the family and confirmed its phylogenetic placement. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of range, diagnosis, life history, and taxonomy. Dubois, Ohler, and Pyron, 2021, Megataxa, 5: 1–738, considered Scolecomorphidae to be a subfamily of Caeciliidae, although the rationale was unclear even if permissible given the caecilian tree.  

Contained taxa (6 sp.):

External links:

Please note: these links will take you to external websites not affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History. We are not responsible for their content.