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Posts Tagged "amphibians"

The Artful Amoeba

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Hidden World of Tiny Predators

micropredators_glowing_Schmeller_et_al_2014_200

As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink. It’s all quite depressing. But today in Scientific American online I report some good news: [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

A New Weapon in the War on Frog Chytrids: Water Fleas

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It’s no secret that frogs and toads in the Americas, Australia, and Europe have suffered extinctions and massive declines at the hands of a chytrid fungus on a global genocidal rampage. What is much more of a mystery is exactly what a chytrid fungus is. Or, for that matter, what to do about it. I [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Alpine Toads and the Chytrids that Love Them

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When you read a story, you may occasionally wonder what the reporter went through to get it. About a month ago I arose at 5 a.m. to  accompany two wildlife biologists and three fisheries volunteers into the high country of Colorado in order to report a story that came out in High Country News this [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog

panamanian golden frog

These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years. Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads! Where found: The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Did the Axolotl Just Go Extinct?

axolotl

In 2009 scientists reported that the population of one of the world’s most bizarre creatures has dropped by 90 percent over the previous four years. Flash forward four more years and it now appears that Mexico’s “water monster” is approaching extinction in the wild. Species name: Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as the “water monster” [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Fire Salamanders in the Netherlands Wiped Out by Newly Discovered Fungus

fire salamander

Five years ago the Netherlands was home to a small but healthy population of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra terrestris). That is no longer the case. The first dead salamanders, their bodies lacking any visible signs of injuries, turned up in 2008. More mysteriously dead salamanders appeared in the following years, while field surveys found fewer [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Hellbender Head Start: Raising Giant Salamanders in the Bronx

Eastern Hellbender sq

Four years ago 41 hellbender salamander larvae from western New York State arrived at their temporary home in New York City. Originally collected as eggs near the Allegheny River, the hellbenders—also known as snot otters or devil dogs—were hatched at the Buffalo Zoo and then transferred to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, where they [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Amphibians in U.S. Declining at “Alarming and Rapid Rate”

yellow-legged frog

A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years. The nine-year [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians

caecilian

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never seen a caecilian, let alone don’t know how to pronounce the word. These rare, legless amphibians—which look like a cross between a worm and a snake—spend most of their time underground, far from the prying eyes of scientists and other humans. Although some of the 190 or so known [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Geese May Be Helping to Spread Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus

canada goose belgium

The frog-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been blamed for about 100 amphibian extinctions around the globe since it was first observed in 1998, but clear information on exactly how it spreads has remained a mystery. Now a team of scientists working in Belgium have come up with one potential [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Looms for Rare Frog Species, Now Down to 1 Individual

Rabbs Tree Frog

And then there was one. The last known Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) now lives by himself at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia after the zoo euthanized the only other member of its species. The euthanized frog, another male, had been experiencing a “marked decline in health and behavior” according to a Zoo Atlanta news [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Should California Ban American Bullfrogs?

American bullfrog

Santa Cruz County in California could soon become the first county in the U.S. to ban the import, sale and possession of American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). Last week, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark W. Stone sent a letter to the board urging it to enact a ban in 2012. Stone’s request followed [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Ozark Hellbender Salamanders Breed in Captivity for the First Time

“In my 24 years in the zoo business, this is one of the most exciting periods I’ve been through so far,” says Jeff Ettling, curator of herpetology and aquatics at the Saint Louis Zoo. He’s talking about the birth of 185 baby Ozark hellbender salamanders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) at the zoo’s Ron Goellner Center for [...]

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Image of the Week

Tragically Beautiful

DFA186: Hadēs by Brandon Ballengée

Source: ScienceArt On View in March/April 2014 on Symbiartic Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are rapidly declining worldwide, and those that remain are increasingly falling victim to environmental pollutants that cause deformities such as extra limbs and ambiguous sexual organs. Brandon Ballengée’s work aims to draw attention to their plight through visually arresting [...]

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Running Ponies

If only you could see yourself, Atretochoana eiselti

“What? What are you guys all laughing at? No, of course I don’t have any idea what I look like. You’re laughing because I’m so ridiculously good-looking, right? Guys? Hey stop stealing my fries, don’t think I can’t sense you!” **** Yes, this is probably the most unfortunate-looking animal in the world, and yes that’s [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Model salamanders, in a cave

Life-sized Fire salamander model, encountered in one of the Dan yr Ogof caves, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

While on a family holiday recently I visited Dan yr Ogof, the famous National Show Cave for Wales. Besides being interesting for the expected geological and speleological reasons, Dan yr Ogof is set within landscaped gardens that, bizarrely, feature one of Europe’s largest ‘dinosaur parks’. Great plastic models of tyrannosaurs, sauropods and all manner of [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

THE AMAZING WORLD OF SALAMANDERS

How could I not mention the Black Mudpuppy, the world's best parthenogenetic salamander superhero? The Black Mudpuppy is a comic, featuring nazi dinosaurs, Aztec gods and a whole world of awesome. Image kindly provided by Ethan Kocak.

Tet Zoo loves amphibians* (that’s anurans, salamanders, caecilians and their close relatives), and since 2008 I’ve been making a concerted effort to get through all the amphibian groups of the world. I’ve failed, and I’m blaming that entirely on the fact that I can’t put the time I need to into blogging. Sigh, always busy [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Teenage Mutant Ninja Temnospondyls

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You all enjoyed the many Platyhystrix images featured here the other day (interesting discussion still going on in the comments section on that article, check it out). Henrik Petersson, in particular, did us all proud with a TMNT-themed temnospondyl, perhaps the world’s first ever (and I used to play TMNT the RPG, so I’ve seen [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The troubling lack of Platyhystrix images online: the Tet Zoo Solution

TMNT Platyhytrix, but with the second 'T' standing for temnospondyl! Image by Henrik Petersson, used with permission. I hope that we'lll end up a full squad of TMNT temnos... that's Raphael done, Donatello next?

Regular readers will know that I’ve been doing my best over the last several years to get through the temnospondyls of the world. Temnospondyli, for the one or two or you that don’t know, is an enormous and substantially diverse clade of anamniotes (‘amphibians’) that was an important and persistent presence between the Early Carboniferous [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

33% of the newts of my country

NOT a Palmate newt: a male Smooth newt. Note obviously spotted underside and lack of terminal tail filament. Photo by Darren Naish. CC BY.

I know the newts of my country… but that’s not hard, there are only three (or four if you count the alien one). The Palmate newt Lissotriton helveticus is Britain’s smallest species (reaching 95 mm in total length), though it’s not the smallest of all European newts, being exceeded by the 80 mm Italian newt L. [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Because caecilians are important

Excellent diagrams showing skull anatomy and jaw musculature of (from top to bottom) rhinatrematid, ichthyophiid, caeciliid and scolecomorphid caecilians. Caecilians are unique in that they have co-opted various throat muscles for the role of closing the jaws. From Nussbaum (1993).

This is the 200th article at Tet Zoo ver 3 – thanks, pass the champagne, donation cheque etc. (hint hint). The plan is to produce a lengthy introspective-type article that includes links to all the content that’s appeared on Tet Zoo ver 3 so far. Alas, I just haven’t been able to find time for [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The confusing diplospondylous tupilakosaurids

Time for a quick look at another temnospondyl group. Today, we focus on the tupilakosaurids, a group of short-limbed, blunt-skulled, long-bodied Permo-Triassic temnos. Ossified ceratobranchials, poorly ossified limbs and long and flexible bodies all suggest that they were fully aquatic though – like some other aquatic temnospondyl groups – their bones lack lateral line sulci. [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

More temnospondyls: gigantic, gharial-snouted archegosauroids and their spatulate-snouted kin

Good news: I’ve decided to treat you all to yet another article on temnospondyls. This time we look at several (mostly) Permian groups – the sclerocephalids, archegosaurids and their relatives – that have sometimes (but not consistently) been grouped together as the Archegosauroidea or Archegosauriformes. As before, I have to note that there are strongly [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Trimerorhachid temnospondyls: numerous scale layers and… gill-pouch brooding?

Continuing with the theme of the previous article on trematosauroid temnospondyls, I thought I may as well publish another randomly chosen chunk of my grand, super-long temnospondyl review. This time we look at the trimerorhachids. While there are diverse and often conflicting opinions on the phylogenetic affinities of the many temnospondyl lineages, it’s generally agreed [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Trematosauroids, those gharial-snouted, marine temnospondyls

Long-time Tet Zoo readers will know of my various efforts to get through all the temnospondyl lineages. Alas, I just haven’t been able to finish this grand project due to my getting stuck somewhere round about dissorophoids (see below for links to previous Tet Zoo temnospondyl articles). In frustration, here’s a section from late in [...]

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Thoughtomics

Frog-killing fungus is a skin-loving hybrid

This Limosa Harlequin Frog has died from chytridiomycosis. Notice the reddening of the skin and the lesions on its belly.

These are not the best of times for amphibians. All around the world, populations of frogs, salamanders and newts are declining. At least 489 species (7.8% of all known amphibians) are nearing extinction. More than a hundred of these endangered species have not been seen in recent years, and have likely gone extinct already. Who [...]

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