The Penis Snake: Phallic, Perturbing and Permissible-for-work…
Doing the rounds no doubt on the WTF?! and NSFW circuits the last few days has been this wee wrinkly winky-esque wonder. And while it certainly may warrant the former of those immediate reactions, you’d be premature to write it off as a member of the latter category; for as much as our gutter-governed minds may be reluctant to think otherwise, these photographs depict nothing more seedy or sinister than a unique species of limbless amphibian - one Atretochoana eiselti.
Dubbed (for the duh-bvious reason) the “Penis Snake”, Atretochoana eiselti is a species of caecilian (earthworm or snake-like amphibians) which until it’s most recent re-discovery in 2011 in the Madeira River in Brazil, was only known to science via two preserved museum specimens. Encounters with A. eiselti are so uncommon that very little information on the species exists. It is therefore listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “Data Deficient”.
What little that is known about the species, however, shows that it possesses some truly remarkable features. For starters, the skull shows evidence of the species possessing muscles not found in any other organism. Furthermore, unlike most caecilians which have a well-developed right lung and a relictual left lung, or even - as is the case with some of A. eiselti's closer relatives - two well-developed lungs,this “Penis Snake” entirely lacks lungs and displays a number of other features associated with lunglessness such as sealed choanae and an absence of pulmonary arteries. Although it is still not entirely clear how this lungless beast derives it’s oxygen from it’s watery surroundings, the presence of capillaries close to the skin suggest that the transfer of gaseous oxygen across the skin is at least a partial factor.
So there you go - the Penis Snake. Somewhat phallic, plenty perturbing, but definitely still permissible-for-work. (Although you may want to lay off Google Imaging “Penis Snake” if you’re attempting to research this species further because the results of that search will be sure to raise more than a few office eyebrows. And you can trust me on that one…)