Idiocranium russeli is a small caecilian with a snout-vent length of 51 - 114 mm. The long snout is prominent and pointed. The distance from the snout to the anterior border of the eye is a longer than the interocular distance. The eyes are visible. The species has paired globular tentacles located behind and below the nostril in a groove with a ring-shaped opening. It has 12 maxillary teeth, 6 premaxillary teeth, 5 vomerine teeth, 9 palatine teeth, 12 outer mandibular teeth, and 2 inner mandibular teeth on each side. There are 83 to 90 primary annuli (mode 86), that are sometimes obscure on the mid-dorsal and mid-ventral line, and of which the first two folds are separated from the remainder by a broad interspace; there are 21 to 29 secondary annuli (mode 24), the last 4 to 9 complete (Parker 1936, Wake 1986).
Idiocranium russeli is morphologically similar to Herpele bornmulleri, but the former is distinguished by a visible eye, longer, less rounded snout, and shorter tentacles. The distance of nostril from eye is longer for I. russeli (Parker 1936).
In life, it is blue-grey above, lighter underneath. In preservation, it is greyish-brown to yellow-brown dorsally, and cream colored ventrally and around the eye, tentacles and nostrils (Parker 1936, Wake 1986).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Cameroon
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Idiocranium russeli is terristrial and oviparous. It is assumed to have direct development of its eggs. Its abundance and behavior is currently unknown (Loader and Wilkinson 2004).
Trends and Threats
The threats to I. russeli is unknown due to lack of information on its adaptability to habitat change (Loader and Wilkinson 2004).
Only 49 specimens collected were in 1936. Further morphological work was conducted on 48 specimens of those specimens. Further taxonomic work is required to determine whether or not the specimens from the two known localities refer to the same species (Parker 1936, Wake 1986, Loader and Wilkinson 2004)
The species authority is Parker, H. W. "The Amphibians of the Mamfe Division, Cameroons.–I. Zoogeography and Systematics." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Vol. 106. No. 1. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1936.
The Greek origins of Idiocranium means unique skull with idio- meaning "one's own, personal, distinct" and kranion meaning "skull, upper part of the head."
Parker, H.W. (1936). ''The amphibians of the Mamfe Division, Cameroon. I. Zoogeography and systematics.'' Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1936, 135-163.
Simon Loader, Mark Wilkinson 2004. Idiocranium russeli. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. . Downloaded on 15 May 2013.
Wake, Marvalee H. ''The morphology of Idiocranium russeli (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), with comments on miniaturization through heterochrony.'' Journal of Morphology 189.1 (1986): 1-16.
Written by Edwin Liu and Ann T. Chang (edwinkliu AT gmail.com), University of California Berkeley
First submitted 2013-07-08
Edited by Ann T. Chang (2013-07-22)
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2015. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: Oct 4, 2015).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.