Researchers discover record-breaking salamander

The largest individual of any cave salamander.


Scientists at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have discovered a 9.3-inch specimen of Berry Cave salamander in North America. This discovery is making scientists reconsider the growth limits of these animals in harsh environments and how neighborly underground conditions really are.

Nicholas Gladstone, a graduate student in UT’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences said, “The record represents the largest individual within the genus Gyrinophilus, the largest body size of any cave-obligate salamander and the largest salamander within the Plethodontidae family in the United States.”

Salamanders can be found in an assortment of natural surroundings crosswise over Tennessee. A few animal categories have adjusted to living in cave environments, which are thought of as extreme and inhospitable ecosystems because of the nonappearance of light and restricted assets.

Gladstone said, “Salamanders are one of only two vertebrate animal groups to have successfully colonized caves. The other is fish.”

The record-breaking specimen had some damage to the tail, leading researchers to believe that it was once nearly 10 inches long.

Gladstone said, “This research will hopefully motivate additional conservation efforts for this rare and vulnerable species.”

The study is published in the journal Subterranean Biology.


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