Salamanders are in the spotlight at Light Future Art today! How many of these fun facts did you know?
1. More species of salamanders live in North America than in the rest of the world combined. North America has close to 250 species of salamanders. Other salamanders live in Europe, Northern Asia, Eastern Asia, and some parts of South America.
2. Cryptobranchids are a group of large salamanders from East Asia, with one relative in North America: the Hellbender. Hellbenders are a threatened species that live in the Appalachian Mountains. They usually get to one and a half feet in length, although a few have been reported to be closer to two and a half feet long.
3. The name salamander comes from the Greek words for “Fire Lizard”. This name originated because when logs that salamanders were living in were put on a fire, they would come running out.
4. This behavior was observed in Rome by Pliny the Elder, who wrote that the body temperature of salamanders was so cold that it could put out a fire on contact, and that salamanders spat milky liquid which extinguished flames.
5. The largest salamander in the world is the Chinese Giant Salamander. It grows up to five feet in length. The smallest salamander is the minute salamander. It rarely grows more than an inch in length.
6. Salamanders don’t have specific diets; they are opportunistic feeders. Large species of salamanders eat other amphibians, fish, small mammals, and crabs. Smaller species of salamanders eat insects, larvae, spiders, and worms.
7. The genome of two species of salamander have been sequenced: Pleurodeles waltl and Ambystoma mexicanum. Both of these salamanders had genomes far longer than humans’, five times larger and eight times larger respectively.
8. Sirens are salamanders with an eel-like appearance, with front legs, no hind legs, and a long tail. Some species of sirens can vocalize, which is unusual for salamanders. Most salamanders rely on scent to communicate.
9. Some salamanders are poisonous or taste terrible to predators. These salamanders often have bright and colorful markings to warn predators away. Others, while not poisonous in the least, mimic these colorful markings to protect themselves against predators who will associate them with their toxic cousins.
10. Like some species of lizards, some salamanders will lose their tail when threatened by a predator. The new tail usually grows back within a few weeks.
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