In Search of Lost Salamanders:

Returning after 38 years to find lost salamanders in the remote cloud forests of Guatemala.

by Robin Moore

“We called it the golden wonder”, says Jeremy Jackson, reminiscing about a salamander that he was the first, and last, to find in the wild 38 years ago.

Time has not dulled his memory: I found the first one under a sheet of bark in a field and, after collecting in this field for weeks without success it was obviously something unusual. What the few photos of Bolitoglossa jacksoni [aka Jackson’s Climbing Salamander] that exist don’t show is the brilliance and depth of the coloration. It was an exceptionally beautiful animal”.

But what brought Jackson to the remote forests of Guatemala all those years ago? His good friend, Paul Elias. Elias had ventured to Guatemala for the first time in 1974 – his findings had been so remarkable that he was compelled to return…

(read more: Medium.com)

photographs by Robin Moore

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Tomas’ Worm Salamander - Oedipina tomasi
Definitely salamanders of the genus Oedipina are one of my favorites, don’t you think they look charming with her long body, its very short limbs, and tiny webbed feet?. Besides, as all other plethodontids, they lack lungs and breathe through their skin. Top it off, they lack aquatic larvae and hatch as miniature adults from eggs laid on land or terrestrial vegetation.
This is Oedipina tomasi (Plethodontidae), a Critically Endangered species only known from The Cusuco National Park in Honduras.
References: [1] - [2] - [3]
Photo credit: ©Andrew Snyder | Locality: Cusuco National Park, Honduras (2010)

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Tomas’ Worm Salamander - Oedipina tomasi

Definitely salamanders of the genus Oedipina are one of my favorites, don’t you think they look charming with her long body, its very short limbs, and tiny webbed feet?. Besides, as all other plethodontids, they lack lungs and breathe through their skin. Top it off, they lack aquatic larvae and hatch as miniature adults from eggs laid on land or terrestrial vegetation.

This is Oedipina tomasi (Plethodontidae), a Critically Endangered species only known from The Cusuco National Park in Honduras.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Andrew Snyder | Locality: Cusuco National Park, Honduras (2010)

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O’Donnell’s Salamander - Bolitoglossa odonnelli 
Also commonly known as Mushroomtongue salamander, Bolitoglossa odonnelli (Plethodontidae) is considered part of a complex of three species that are difficult to separate morphologically.
This species, once common but now rare, occurs in rainforests and cloud forests of Guatemala and Honduras, and is regarded as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Todd W. Pierson | Locality: Alta Verapaz, Guatemala (2010)

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O’Donnell’s Salamander - Bolitoglossa odonnelli 

Also commonly known as Mushroomtongue salamander, Bolitoglossa odonnelli (Plethodontidae) is considered part of a complex of three species that are difficult to separate morphologically.

This species, once common but now rare, occurs in rainforests and cloud forests of Guatemala and Honduras, and is regarded as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Todd W. Pierson | Locality: Alta Verapaz, Guatemala (2010)

The Giant Mushroom-tongued (Webfooted) Salamander, Bolitoglossa doefleni, is found in northern Central America. Dimorphic, males are darker, longer-limbed, and much smaller than the foot long females. Provided they are not overmoistened, this is a hardy salamander, If kept too wet the salamander will autotomize its tail and usually dies shortly thereafter.

(text/photos: Dick Bartlett)

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The Mexican Climbing Salamander - Bolitoglossa mexicana | ©Nash Turley  (Cayo, Belize)
Bolitoglossa mexicana (Plethodontidae), a species of salamander native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, commonly named Mexican Climbing Salamander (English) or Salamanquesa (Spanish).
This species inhabits lowland tropical forest and premontane forest where it requires the presence of bromeliads and other epiphytes as a refuge during the dry season. It breeds by direct development.
[Source]

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The Mexican Climbing Salamander - Bolitoglossa mexicana | ©Nash Turley  (Cayo, Belize)

Bolitoglossa mexicana (Plethodontidae), a species of salamander native to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, commonly named Mexican Climbing Salamander (English) or Salamanquesa (Spanish).

This species inhabits lowland tropical forest and premontane forest where it requires the presence of bromeliads and other epiphytes as a refuge during the dry season. It breeds by direct development.

[Source]

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Bolitoglossa porrasorum | ©Jason Butler
Pijol salamander, Honduras.
Bolitoglossa porrasorum is a species native to Honduras, listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List because its extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 square kilometers, all individuals are in fewer than five locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in north-central Honduras. 

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Bolitoglossa porrasorum | ©Jason Butler

Pijol salamander, Honduras.

Bolitoglossa porrasorum is a species native to Honduras, listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List because its extent of occurrence is less than 5,000 square kilometers, all individuals are in fewer than five locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in north-central Honduras. 

The Mexican Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa mexicana) is a species of salamander in the Plethodontidae family. It is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and possibly Nicaragua. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, plantations, and rural gardens. It is threatened by habitat loss.
(via: Wikipedia)                             (photo: Josiah H. Townsend)

The Mexican Climbing Salamander (Bolitoglossa mexicana) is a species of salamander in the Plethodontidae family. It is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and possibly Nicaragua. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, plantations, and rural gardens. It is threatened by habitat loss.

(via: Wikipedia)                             (photo: Josiah H. Townsend)

Salamander DNA reveals evidence of older land connection between Central and South America

by Smithsonian staff

The two continents are generally believed to have been joined together around three million years ago by the formation of a land bridge–what is now Panama–that sealed up the sea channel between them.

However, a new study of salamanders in South America by a research team lead by Kathryn Elmer of the University of Glasgow, has found evidence that challenges these assumptions and supports a controversial claim by Carlos Jaramillo, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, that most of the Isthmus of Panama was formed around 23 million years ago.

The fusion of both land masses led to a two-way migration of animals called the ‘Great American Biotic Interchange’, where animals that had previously evolved separately moved between the two continents, increasing the biodiversity in both regions.

The relative dearth of species of salamander in South America–around 30–compared to Central America, where there are more than 300 species, is usually attributed to the relatively short time the tiny amphibians have had to make their way south down the Isthmus of Panama–a thin strip of land only 30 miles wide at its narrowest point.

However, using DNA analysis, Elmer found that salamanders in South America had much greater genetic divergence from their Central American cousins than should be expected if salamanders migrated across a three- million-year-old land bridge…

(read more: Smithsonian Science)

(photos: T - Bolitoglossa sp. in the upper Amazon basin by Santiago Ron; B - B. peruviana by Kristiina Ovaska)

source: Carlos Jaramillo - Univ. of Glasgow

Two Newly Discovered Salamander Species Described by Colombian Researchers

by Stuart Patterson

A team of young researchers from Colombia have recently published an article in the journal Zootaxa describing two new species of salamander discovered during a project supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Save Our Species.

The two new salamanders belong to the genus Bolitoglossa, otherwise known as tropical climbing or web-footed salamanders. One of the salamanders (B. leandrae) has been named after an 11-year old girl who became friends with the team whilst they conducted their fieldwork. “Leandra grew fascinated by the world of amphibians,” explains team leader Aldemar Acevedo. “She was eager to learn about our work and became an excellent spokesperson for nature conservation among the community.”

Bolitoglossa leandrae is a relatively small salamander (its body measures roughly 2.5 cm in length, about the size of a 50 pence, 20 cent or US quarter coin) with a narrow head and long, slender tail. Males are dark brown with thin yellow stripes along the length of the body and females are reddish brown.

Bolitoglossa tamaense is slightly longer than B. leandrae (the body of the longest specimen measured approximately 5 cm, or the same as the height of a credit card) and has a broad head and relatively long body and legs. A number of different colourations and patterns were recorded, but the body is generally brown or dark red, and the tail and limbs can be dark brown, red, orange or yellow…

(read more: Flora and Fauna Intl.)    (photos: Aldemar Acevedo)