Family - Plethodontidae

(Lungless Salamanders)

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The Lungless Salamanders are a family of salamanders.  Most are native to the western hemisphere, from British Colombia to Brazil.  A few are found in Sardinia and Europe south of the alps. They are the largest salamanders. Different features distinguish Plethodontidae from other salamanders. Significantly they lack lungs, Conducting respiration through their skin, and the tissues lining their mouths. They must stay moist to respire, so they have to live in damp areas, such as the underside of logs,  in caves wet rock crevices, and travel in humid weather. They have a vertical slit between their mouth and nose, know as the "naso-labiol groove". The groove is lined with glands that enhance the salamander's chemoreception.

Adult lung less salamanders have four body parts and four toes on the forelimbs and five on the hind limbs. Many species don't have a aquatic larval stage. In many species, they lay eggs on land and the hatchlings are formed as having an adult body form. Measured in individual numbers, they are very successful animals where they occur. In some places they make up the dominant biomass vertebrates.

Because their size they are able to feed on Collembola.  Collembola are usually to small for other terrestrial animals to eat. Giving them access to a whole ecological niche with small competition from others. Plethodontidae includes many genera grouped in two families. Nearly four hundred species of Plethodontidae are known.

Author: Jaymen D
Published: 11/2010

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