New salamander species discovered in the USA

This new species of salamander was discovered in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Bill PetermanFrom Wildlife Extra:

New species & genus of salamander found in the USA

09/07/2009 14:59:02

Smallest salamander in the U.S. discovered in Georgia

July 2009. The newly discovered salamander, which is the second-smallest salamander species in the U.S. and one of the smallest in the world at just two inches long, is now under study by a diverse group of researchers from several U.S. colleges. The team is searching for more of the salamanders.

Researchers from the University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources weren’t looking for anything new when they went exploring in the northeast part of the state. But they ended up making a big discovery of a tiny animal, finding a new species of salamander that could change what scientists know about some amphibians.

First found in 2007

The initial discovery came in the spring of 2007 near Toccoa, Georgia, when Univeristy of Missouri graduate student Bill Peterman and Warnell graduate student Joe Milanovich stumbled across it while collecting another species of salamander in Stephens County. They knew they’d found an animal not known in that region but did not yet know it was a new species. Milanovich works with Warnell assistant professor of wildlife John Maerz, and called Dr. Maerz, who advised they take the salamander to Piedmont College professor Carlos Camp. Dr. Camp recognized it as a new species. Dr. Trip Lamb, professor at East Carolina University, used genetics to confirm the new species and establish its relationship to other species in the region.

Also found in South Carolina

After the students found the first salamander, a female with eggs, in a creek, researchers went back repeatedly looking for others. That’s when Maerz’s then 10-year-old son Jack and Milanovich found the first male specimen. The research team has found several individuals at the original site, including larvae, and they have found the new species at two other nearby locations in Georgia. Collaborators also found the species at a nearby site in South Carolina.

560 species of salamnders worldwide – 10% are found in Georgia

This discovery, Maerz explained, could yield exciting new information on the evolution of stream salamanders in this region. “Whenever you find something new, it has the potential to change what we know about a range of related species,” he said. There are more than 560 species of salamanders worldwide, and approximately 10 percent are found in Georgia.

But that’s not the only reason Maerz is excited. The new species was found in a well-traveled area in the middle of a creek right next to a road, almost hidden in plain sight.

To make such a find in an area with extensive human activity, Maerz said, proves that “there are still things out there to discover. It makes you wonder, what else is out there?”

With funding from The Environmental Resources Network(TERN), Milanovich and Dr. Camp are leading research efforts to describe the ecology of the tiny creatures.

The research team has named the tiny salamanders for Dr. Richard Bruce, professor emeritus at Western Carolina University and a well-respected, longtime salamander researcher who has connections to many members of the research team.

“Dr. Bruce has done much of the foundational work on stream salamander ecology in the region and on the evolution of miniaturization in salamanders, so naming this species after him is a good fit,” Maerz said.

New genus

Dr. Camp marvels at the find. “This animal is so distinct that it belongs in its own genus, a taxonomic level used for grouping closely related species,” he says. “The real significance of this find is that it represents the first new genus of four-footed creature discovered in the United States in 50 years.”

The find was detailed in the Journal of Zoology.

See also here.

From NatGeo News Watch in the USA:

The research team’s suggested common name is patch-nosed salamander, based on the lighter coloring on the tiny salamander’s nose. The formal Latin name is Urspelerpes brucei for Richard Bruce, professor emeritus at Western Carolina University and a well-respected, longtime salamander researcher who has connections to many members of the research team.

Ringed Salamander Ambystoma annulatum: here.

Fire salamander in the Netherlands: here.

Common newt in the Netherlands: here.

Mudpuppy: you probably won’t want this type of puppy running around your house! Here.

2 thoughts on “New salamander species discovered in the USA

  1. Pingback: Emerald shiner fish research in New York, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Bad wildlife news, good wildlife news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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