spotted-salamander

Shout out to blue spotted salamanders

 Say hello to the blue spotted salamander (Abystoma laterale).

Just… wow.  I don’t even know where to begin with these animals.  I am just IN LOVE (and pretty miffed at laws for not letting me keep several dozen).   There are actually all-female populations of these beauties and they don’t just clone themselves.  Technically, these all-female populations are hybrids. It’s just.

Look, it’s honestly the weirdest form of reproduction I’ve ever come across so obviously i gotta tell tumblr about it: when  one of these hybrids wants to make salamanderlings, she has to find a male of a different species ( the species she’s related to) and breeds with him.  And guys?  Guys?  She doesn’t even USE THE SPERM’S GENETICS.  That’s almost always just discarded.  Instead, the sperm simply helps her eggs develop in the first place.

like damn.  That’s COLD.  It’s called kleptogenesis.

This doesn’t always happen though.  Although the sperm technically STILL doesn’t fertilize the egg, the genetics are used anyway, which is how we get hybrids.  This is part of the reason why ALL Abystoma are banned from California: they’re just too damn good at stealing manly lizard genes and creating hybrids all over the place.

Entire new SPECIES have been created like this, and are still reproducing like this now. The Tremblay’s salamander (Abystoma tremblayi) is a hybrid between the blue spotted above and Jefferson salamanders (Abystoma jeffersonianum).  The SAME COMBINATION of A. laterale and A. jeffersonianum has ALSO created the Silvery Salamander (Abystoma platineum).  Just.  How amazing is that?  Same species go in, entirely new thing comes out.  The Tremblay’s and Silvery also contain THREE sets of chromosomes instead of just two.

to use a game reference, I’m pretty sure these guys are basically the Asari from Mass Effect.

Spotted Salamander egg mass
Ambystoma maculatum

Quiet a few years ago we found a Spotted Salamander while clearing the fall leaves and when my mother was a child she used to find them in the area. She was actually the one to tell me about the vernal pool that always had eggs in it. Despite knowing there are spotted’s in the area, 2 full days of searching brought up nothing.

UPDATE REGARDING UPDATES: February’s been a bit ROUGH for me to say the least, so comic updates have suffered a bit. Scalie Schoolie will be back March 2nd and will begin updating twice per week on Monday and Wednesday. Death By Misadventure will still update on Fridays, and should update once more before the end of February.

Also here’s an Amber I guess.

Spotted salamanders and green algae make for an odd couple, but they share a close bond that begins when the algae start growing in the salamander’s egg. Just because it’s an intimate arrangement, though, doesn’t mean it goes smoothly for both parties, a new study by Museum scientists shows. While salamanders seem to take the connection in stride, it leaves algae cells struggling to get by. 

This rare “cellular roommate” relationship between two very different species—which you can learn about in this episode of the Museum’s Shelf Life web series—has intrigued scientists for decades. That’s in part because, while algae are known to form similar relationships with invertebrates like corals and cicadas, this is the only algae symbiosis that involves a vertebrate species.

“Science shows us the many ways that life is interconnected, especially on the microscopic level, where we see how many organisms depend on close contact with or internalization of other species for food, defense, or reproduction,” said lead author John Burns, a postdoctoral researcher in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “But the relationship between this particular alga and salamander is very unusual.”

Read more about this research on the Museum’s blog. 

OK SO since I literally cannot find whether or not this animal is legal I am going to post this here! Like a week ago two customers came in and were going to give my boss this Spotted Salamander they found under a log. But he saw me freaking out behind them about it and suggested they give him/her to me!

SO I HAVE HER NOW IM ASSUMING SHES A SHE AND LOOK HOW AMAZNG SHE IS

Mike named her Sweet Potato. (aka Yam!)

She’s in a kritter keeper for the moment until I get her outfitted with a 10gal. She’s eating crickets like a champ (I wasn’t sure she was eating at first) and I’ll get worms to chop up ASAP.