From the Google cache of Dear Kitty ModBlog.
7/12/05 at 7:44AM
Mood: Thinking Playing: Highway to hell, AC/DC
From ABC in the USA:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Jul 11, 2005 — The hellbender salamander‘s numbers continue to decline, and wildlife officials say more are showing up with unexplained deformities.
The aquatic animals native to Missouri and Arkansas are considered endangered in Missouri, and the St. Louis Zoo’s Center for the Conservation of the Hellbender said the population of one subspecies has declined 70 percent in the state over the past 10 years.
“It is very, very disheartening,” said Jeff Briggler, a herpetologist at the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Now, hellbenders are being found with deformities that include missing or misshapen limbs, wounds that will not heal, and skin lesions.
Jeff Ettling, a curator of reptiles at the St. Louis Zoo, said the deformities have been found on adult hellbenders and are not birth defects.
Many have been found in the Spring River, Ettling said.
One was missing skin on its head, he said, while “These other ones will be missing limbs but won’t have any wounds on their body.
They will just be missing their front legs, maybe one back leg or missing all four legs, up to the elbow. They are walking around basically on severed legs. It’s bizarre when you find them all in one area like that.”
The hellbender, North America’s largest salamander, can grow to around 2 feet in length.
Its skin is gray to muddy brown, and its tiny eyes are set in a wide, flat head.
Hellbender video: here.