University of Georgia researchers discovered a two inch long salamander near Toccoa, Georgia. It is reportedly the first discovery of a new four-footed species in the US in fifty years.
It was in the spring of 2007 that the salamander was first discovered, but the details have not been published until this year, in the Journal of Zoology. The first one to be spotted was a female, and later the researchers returned to the creek area of the first discovery, and found a male.
The discovery of this one species could actually shed light on new aspects of all stream stream salamanders, as indicated by one of the researchers Johne Maerz, “Whenever you find something new, it has the potential to change what we know about a range of related species. There are more than 560 species of salamanders worldwide, and approximately 10 percent are found in Georgia.” The Appalachian Highlands are a central habitat for stream salamanders.
There is also hope that because the new species lives in a habitat near extensive human activity, there may be more discoveries to come there. Some of the same salamanders were also discovered in South Carolina, not far from the Georgia location.
The suggested common name is patch-nosed salamander, due to a lighter colored area on the tiny salamander’s nose. The latin name is Urspelerpes brucei. It is the only species of lungless salamander which has different coloring and markings for females and males. Another distinguishing feature is that they have five toes instead of four, which is more typical for the small salamanders. Because it is lungless, it breathes through its’ skin.
Image Credit: University of Georgia