American scientists discovered a salamander about two feet long (30 centimeters) that lives in northern Florida and southern Alabama (southern United States) and was identified as a new species.
Named “Reticulated Siren”, it is the first species of the family known since 1944, according to an article published in Plos One magazine. It is also one of the largest vertebrates described in the United States in more than 100 years.
Scientists suspected for a long time that the amphibian known locally as a leopard eel was another species of the genus “Sirena” of salamanders. However, because very few were captured, there was not enough evidence to confirm it.
But “it was basically this mythical beast,” David Steen, an ecologist with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, who participated in the study, told National Geographic.
Before discovering the “Reticulated Siren” two known species in the genus “Sirena” were known.
The smaller creature can grow from 12 to 27 inches (30 to 68 centimeters) and lives throughout the southern United States in Mexico and the Mississippi River to Michigan.
The biggest species is one of the largest salamanders in the world. It can be up to three feet long (91 centimeters). It is usually found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Maryland to Alabama, including throughout Florida.
Like other salamanders of the siren genus, the reticulate lost its hind legs during millions of years of evolution. They also do not have eyelids and have gills that absorb oxygen. Scientists believe they eat insects and mollusks.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.