A swamp salamander presents spots like a leopard and some formations like “Christmas trees” on its head that allows it to breathe. Scientists have been searching for this amphibian for years, but they finally found it and studied this bizarre creature.
Siren reticulata (reticulated siren), as the researchers named it, is an amphibian that is looking more like an eel than a regular salamander. It presents a long body without any hind limbs, but with spots like a leopard which earned its name of “leopard eel.” Besides that characteristic, this weird salamander also boasts some bizarre “Christmas trees” on its head that allow it to breathe.
While the scientists knew about Siren reticulata, they haven’t had the chance to examine it carefully and learn more about it. Now, fortunately, the researchers found out that this salamander species is a new one.
“Christmas Trees” On This Salamander Allow It To Breathe
Like other siren salamanders, this new Siren reticulata species boasts a 60-centimeter-long body and is the longest animal with backbones that US researchers have identified across the United States in more than 100 years.
Different from other salamanders, Siren reticulata has an elongated body with only a pair of front legs, leopard-like spotted skin, and formations like “Christmas tree” on its head that allow it to breathe underwater, as it is an entirely aquatic species. Those branching external gills are extracting the oxygen from the water, according to David Steen, a research ecologist with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, cited by Live Science.
“Natural predators for the reticulated sirens likely include snakes, herons, egrets, and predatory fish,” said Steen for Live Science. “This is a big animal, and it’s only being described in 2018. There’s probably a lot more species for us to learn about – and we should do it quickly before these things disappear,” he added.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.