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Is the 'Penis Snake' a Real Animal?

5 min read
Yes, but it's not really a snake.
Pictures of phallic-shaped objects are a surefire way to get the internet to snicker, which is probably why we've been asked about penis-shaped islands, plants, rocks, and Christmas lights. In November 2021, photographs of another another dick doppelganger made their way around social media, this time supposedly showing a "penis snake."

These are genuine photographs of a real animal. While these pictures often make their way around the internet attached to names like "penis snake," "floppy snake," or "man-aconda," this creature's proper name is Atretochoana eiselti. And while this animal's internet nicknames would lead some to believe that these photos show a sort of phallic-looking snake, this animal is actually a species of caecilian, a group of limbless amphibians.

We haven't been able to source both of the above-displayed pictures, but the top photograph was taken in 2011, when a large caecilian had been collected at the bottom of the Madeira River in Brazil after a portion of the river was drained for a construction project. Here's an excerpt from the paper published in the Brazilian scientific journal, Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi: Ciências Naturais, where this photo was published:

On August 8, 2011, the senior author was contacted by the junior author JTC who sent him some very good pictures of a large caecilian that had been collected on August 1, 2011 in the bed of the Madeira river, in Cachoeira Santo Antônio (Figure 2A), in a pool at an altitude of 4 m below sea level, at the construction site of a hydroelectric project, in an area of the river bed at the left bank of the Madeira river that had been closed off upstream on July 30, 2011 and was drying out (Figure 2C, D). The land along the Madeira river at the site has an elevation of about 50 m above sea level. From the pictures received it was immediately clear that this was a specimen of A. eiselti,…
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