Smooth newt’s mating season, video


This is a video about a male smooth newt, preparing for the mating season which will start at the end of March.

Jos van Zijl from the Netherlands made the video.

Cave salamander discoveries in Montenegro and Bosnia


This video from Slovenia is called A True Miracle in Postojna CaveProteus anguinus laying eggs in public.

From BirdLife:

Scientific breakthrough reveals evidence of ‘human fish’ locked away in cave system

By Shaun Hurrell, Mon, 09/02/2015 – 10:35

How do you find physical evidence of a rare species when most of its habitat (the subterranean waters of limestone cave systems in the Balkans) is inaccessible to humans? The ‘human fish’ is the largest cave animal in the world. Despite this, Proteus anguinus – a blind, entirely-aquatic salamander commonly known as the olm, and endemic to the Dinaric Alps – is incredibly difficult to find.

The answer was recently provided by the Society for Cave Biology (SCB; Društvo za jamsko biologijo) in a project funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) when they found the first physical evidence of the species in Montenegro using new techniques to sample its DNA.

In this region, activities such as water extraction, river damming and agriculture have increased the stress on Proteus and other aquatic cave animals. Limestone habitats like cave systems can be intricate and complex, having taken millions of years to form by natural processes. One wrong move can wipe out entire species, so urgent measures need to be taken in order to save them.

Nick-named the ‘human fish’ by locals because of its skin colour, Proteus are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in some localities the species is already extinct. However the extent of the decline cannot be estimated without an extensive survey of its distribution – in habitat where access is easy for the human fish, but not so easy for human beings. The purpose of the CEPF project was to solve this problem: to test a scientific method that safely, effectively and accurately determines Proteus presence.

Environmental DNA

SCB, experts in speleological (cave and karst) research, designed a solution based on so-called ‘eDNA’. During the process of skin regeneration, Proteus shed fragments of epidermal cells which are carried away by water. DNA dissolved in water is called environmental DNA (eDNA), and SCB successfully tested and perfected the sensitive and inexpensive technique of identifying Proteus eDNA from samples of water.

After many hours in the field and thousands of water samples, the team have discovered new localities of Proteus in Montenegro and in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This ground-breaking research will give SCB and partners the evidence to appeal and counsel the nature conservation authorities in Montenegro to start all necessary legal actions to protect Proteus in their territories, and to guide the management planning of authorities in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Smooth newt males ready for mating season


This video from England says about itself:

9 April 2013

I’ve finally set out herping. With all this cold weather we’ve been having I thought I would never see the day. But I turned out to have great success in Dorset. I found lots of newts, lots of lizards, and lots of snakes. This video shows you the two species of newt which I found on my trip: the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris), and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus). Which turns out to be a new species for me. I also encountered some Italian crested newts along the way but was unable to get some footage. :( Maybe next time…

On 3 January 2014, Dutch RAVON herpetologists investigated amphibians in Aamsveen nature reserve in Overijssel province.

They found two male smooth newts, already in full spring mating season colours, waiting for females.

One should hope for them that the winter, relatively mild so far, will not become harsher.

Italian crested newts in the Netherlands: here.

Hellbenders in Appalachia, USA


This video says about itself:

The Last Dragons – Protecting Appalachia‘s Hellbenders

An intimate glimpse at North America’s Eastern Hellbender, an ancient salamander that lives as much in myth as in reality…. and in many waters, myths are all that remain of these sentinel stream-dwellers.

9 min. Closed Captioned in English & Spanish. Produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in Partnership with the US Forest Service.

From the Bites @ Animal Planet blog in the USA:

Meet the Hellbender

By: David Mizejewski

Just in time for Halloween, I introduce you to the hellbender.

No, it’s not one of Satan’s minions or a CGI monster. It’s a type of salamander native to the streams and rivers of eastern North America.  Despite its demonic-sounding name, this spectacular amphibian is completely harmless to people. Yet the species is rapidly declining due to human activity such as deforestation, erosion and chemical runoff into our streams–which is the real horror story.

Watch this video put out by the Forest Service and partners about one of North America’s most fascinating and little-known wild animals. …

Save Appalachian streams and the hellbenders that live in them with National Wildlife Federation.

Alpine salamanders mating, video


Christ Grootzwagers made this video of Alpine salamanders mating.

An Overview of Why Salamander Conservation is Needed: here.

Jurassic fly larva, parasite on salamanders, discovered


This video says about itself:

The fossil of two froghopper insects in the act of mating has been uncovered by archaeologists in northeastern China after being buried for around 165 million years.

From World Science:

Bizarre parasite from Jurassic found

June 25, 2014

Courtesy of the University of Bonn and World Science staff

Re­search­ers from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn and from Chi­na have dis­cov­ered a fos­sil fly lar­va with such a spec­tac­u­lar suck­ing ap­pa­rat­us, they have named it by the Chin­ese word for “bizarre.”

Around 165 mil­lion years ago, a spec­tac­u­lar par­a­site was at home in the fresh­wa­ter lakes of pre­s­ent-day In­ner Mon­go­lia in Chi­na, re­search­ers say. It was a ju­ve­nile fly with a thor­ax, or “ch­est,” formed en­tirely like a suck­ing plate.

With it, the an­i­mal could stick to sala­man­ders and suck their blood with its mouth­parts formed like a sting, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists. To date no in­sect is known with a si­m­i­lar de­sign. The in­terna­t­ional sci­en­tif­ic team is now pre­sent­ing its find­ings in the jour­nal eLIFE.

The par­a­site, a long fly lar­va around two cen­time­ters (a bit un­der an inch) long, had un­der­gone ex­treme changes over the course of ev­o­lu­tion, the re­search­ers said. The head is ti­ny in com­par­i­son to the body, tube-shaped with piercer-like mouth­parts at the front. The mid-body, or thor­ax, has been com­pletely trans­formed un­derneath in­to a gi­gantic suck­ing plate; the hind-body, or ab­do­men, has caterpillar-like legs.

The re­search team be­lieves that this un­usu­al an­i­mal lived in a land­scape with vol­ca­noes and lakes what is now north­east­ern Chi­na around 165 mil­lion years ago. In this fresh wa­ter hab­i­tat, they say, the par­a­site crawled on­to pass­ing sala­man­ders, at­tached it­self with its suck­ing plate, and pen­e­trated the thin skin of the am­phib­ians in or­der to suck blood from them.

“The par­a­site lived the life of Reil­ly,” said paleon­tologist Jes Rust from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn. This is be­cause there were many sala­man­ders in the lakes, as fos­sil finds at the same loca­t­ion near Ningcheng in In­ner Mon­go­lia (Chi­na) have shown. “There sci­en­tists had al­so found around 300,000 di­verse and ex­cep­tion­ally pre­served fos­sil in­sects,” said the Chin­ese sci­ent­ist Bo Wang, a post­doc­tor­al re­searcher in paleon­tology at the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn.

The lar­va, which has re­ceived the sci­en­tif­ic name of Qiyia juras­si­ca, how­ev­er, was a quite un­ex­pected find. “Qiyia” in Chin­ese means “bizarre”; “jur­as­si­ca” refers to the Ju­ras­sic pe­ri­od to which the fos­sils be­long. A fine-grained mud­stone en­sured the good state of pre­serva­t­ion of the fos­sil.