BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 08:14 GMT
'Flesh-eating' amphibians filmed
Caecilians (Hilary Jeffkins)

One of the strangest meal-times in the animal kingdom has been caught on film by a BBC crew.

The team recorded footage of a female worm-like amphibian, called a caecilian, allowing her young to peel off and eat her skin.

Scientists have only recently discovered this bizarre parental behaviour.

The female caecilian's skin becomes thicker and more nutrient-rich when she bears offspring.

And the young have specialised teeth for tearing and removing it.

The footage was recorded for the BBC One series Life In Cold Blood.

The crew was able to catch this behaviour on camera by building a set which resembled the shallow, humid underground chambers that the creatures live in.

It took several attempts to capture the footage; the caecilian babies would only eat their mother's skin for about 10 minutes, once every three days, and often at night.

Life In Cold Blood is on BBC One on Monday, 11 February at 2100 GMT and is repeated on BBC One on Sunday, 17 February at 1800 GMT.

Yummy mummy feeds young its skin
16 Apr 06 |  Science/Nature


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific