What has two short arms, gross, marrow of plugin bags, and a smooth, marble, marble, long body with a leg? No speculation? Meet the recycled siren, a huge salamander, two feet and a half, first described in a paper published today in the magazine PLOS ONE, removing from the wild, wild, wild * chess notes * southern Alabama and Florida Panhandle.
Serens are a small family of unusual salamanders found throughout the South East of America and parts of Mexico. They are completely aquatic, live in colonies and ponds and keep their heavy external holes through their education. Going from a few inches to more than three feet in length, sirens have greasy gaps, and they have wholly swollen their rough peaks, leaving only a long body and eel-like. Their name comes from an adjoining body plan and occasionally "singing" and croaking.
Information about the recycled siren did not just come overnight. For decades, the salamander had almost my life status in herpedology circles.
Sean Graham, a biologist at the University of Ross's Sunday Stories, author American Snakes, and lead author of the new study, heard about the enigmatic "leopard eagle" in the early 2000s. "It was almost astonishing, almost like a unicorn," he said. "Some biologists were familiar with it and have seen it."
When listening to those stories and biologists and seeing the lean of retention specimens collected years ago, he left an impression. "I was thinking of a holy crap, this is a great siren that is very distinctive, colorful and genuine and crazy looks!" Graham said. About ten years ago, while in the graduate school at Auburn University, he mentioned the possible existence of the siren to fellow student David Steen, now a research ecologist at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and a joint authority on the study.
"We wanted to describe this mysterious siren that others have indicated as it happens in southern Alabama," said Steen. "But we did not have any real claim to the project; we know that if we wanted to work on this species, we had to find one in our own wildlife."
From time to time, Graham and Steen visited the presumed salamander turf, but came back with empty hands every time. Then, in 2009, Steen held one in Florida Panhandle.
"He just called out of the blue only, he left a message on my phone as I had one," said Graham. "I knew exactly what was in it meant, and I was driving down there immediately. "
The sealed salamander was visually visible, with a refined crane rather than a dark, dark, dark shadow. Although, to ensure that the siren was something unique, Graham and Steen would need more specimens.
Five years later, after a lot of search in the region, the researchers held three more sirens in the Florida pond. In conjunction with these specimens, together with three others that were held in Alabama in the 70s and kept in a museum collection, the team compared the incredible physical features and DNA with other species .
Soon it became clear that the salamander was a different, new, named species Reticulata siren. Beyond her skin has been filled up, the species has a lot shorter than relatives, and much more hangs "costume grooves" along its side.
At risk of expressing the obvious, living large vertebrate, living under our nose in the United States, is not something that is happening much more.
"This is a big animal," said Graham, stating her status as one of the biggest salamanders alive. "It's probably one of the largest species found in North America 100 years."
Although finding such an animal can be so surprising, the fact that it is happening in Alabama and Florida Panhandle is so specific. The region is an endemic potential fan, with many other species that can be seen there and elsewhere, according to Alexa Warwick, an amphibian evolutionary biologist at the Michigan State University that was not part of the # 39; The new study.
"The geology of the area has provoked a great deal of diversity in the types of habitats available, and in turn, the types of species that we can see across the region," Warwick explained.
The site is a parasit of the station and pitch, steep valleys, pine woodlands and wells, creating a unique evolutionary lab.
But if, like the Florida trench dress, the panhandle found in recycled sirens, which could put a species at risk, says Graham. Although there are accounts of hundreds of seirens found in single locations, there are currently no formal estimates of the size or distribution of the species's population, and may be vulnerable.
"If they are numerous locally in six known ponds, and a hurricane comes and a big storm surge grows salt water, it could eliminate half of their ponds," says Graham.
Now the recycled siren has introduced to the world, the essential work of showing its most basic natural history begins. "Formal description of a species is a vital first step towards conservation," said Amber Pitt, a conservation ecologist at Trinity College who was not involved in the new study. "But now we need basic information about its distribution, its population status and ecology."
It is believed that the new species will eat all the eating (aquatic and molten insects), and live in the same ponds and waterways where each siren lives. But more details about its habitat and its range will need to bring additional surveys.
At present, the fact that a refurbished siren reduces uninhabited biodiversity in North America. The drainage of the Alabama River, for its size, has the highest range of turtles anywhere in the world. North America is generally ranked # 1 in the world for maritime bands – Graham describes it as our "best vertebrates" – with a number of whole families (including sirens) found elsewhere on Earth.
"I'm thinking that our biggest fertebrate export to the rest of the world is sudden," Graham said. "Salamanders got up here and they're great. People should know about it and be proud of it."
Jake BuehlerTwitter or in her blog.