Friday, July 15, 2011

Costa Rica - Day 9-10 Salamanders

In the last couple of days we have encountered two species of salamander, a group of amphibians that we do not have in Australia.

These remarkable animals have soft permeable skin like that of frogs, but at a glance can seem lizard-like. We found a Bark-coloured Salamander (Bolitoglossa lignicolor) on a broad green leaf during one of our evening bug expeditions. It is bizarre to watch; the feet are broad and almost lack distinguishable toes, and it walks in slow motion in a very precise manner. These unusual feet securely anchor it to the moist surfaces on which it travels, and it uses its muscular body and tail to assist it lean out slowly and grasp nearby leaves. Once in the leaf litter, this species all but disappears. Just 30 seconds after I released it I thought it had gone, but in fact it had moved only several centimetres and still right in front of me.

The Bark-coloured Salamander (Bolitoglossa lignicolor)

The bumps below the nostrils are nasolabial tubes. These are grooves which connect the nostrils to the upper lip and play an important role in the reception of chemical traces.

The Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis) is a small slender species, which has incredibly small limbs. It still seems to utilise these, but also moves in a worm-like manner quite well too. When I first found this one under a rock, it was thrashing and wriggling very fast, and I had to grab it to be sure of its identity. I could have easily dismissed it as a worm. 

The Worm Salamander (Oedipina uniformis)

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