We hope that each of you, our readers, will enjoy and appreciate this article we present about these 3 Amazing North American Amphibians. It was certainly our pleasure to gather the information for you. May it provide you with both education and increased awareness.
Certainly, these few species listed herein represent only a portion of the similar marvels found in this area. It’s our belief, though, that they serve as excellent representations of the wonders that exist. Check out some of our other articles for similar marvels.
Texas Blind Salamander
Texas Blind Salamander Facts
- Leading off this article about these 3 Amazing North American Amphibians we give you the intriguing creature named the Texas Blind Salamander.
- This distinctive-looking amphibian most frequently goes by the informative common name that we have chosen to use, and for good reasons. Yet it also has another name that, while still hard to pronounce, rolls off the tongue with comparative ease.
- That’s because, like all species, it also has a formal, scientific name. In most instances, though, this term’s somewhat difficult for non-professionals to pronounce. In the case of this particular fascinating species, though, that’s a relatively simple alternate name.
- This holds true due to the specific fact that, in the halls of science, it bears the official name of the Eurycea rathbuni. This marvel of Nature further received this moniker as a result of the work of the Norwegian-born American zoologist, Leonhard Hess Stejneger.
- He accomplished the first formal recognition of the creature as a separate and distinct species in the year 1896. Uniquely, it also has an alternate, scientific name, that he assigned it. Though no longer used, it once bore the name of the Typhlomolge rathbuni.
- Unfortunately for those who appreciate the wonders of Nature, it now finds itself facing several threats to its continued existence. Due to the combination of factors, the IUCN now lists the amphibian as Vulnerable on its Red List of Threatened Species.
- The nature and extent of its own natural range renders the Texas Blind Salamander extremely vulnerable to habitat degradation or loss. The ongoing threat of climate change, however, no doubt also poses a dire threat to its existence, like most species.
- Efforts are being made to preserve this product of countless ages of evolution, though. That’s because, in 2013, the USFWS approved a specific habitat conservation plan. This aims at protecting its local environment, thereby reducing stresses on the species.
Texas Blind Salamander Physical Description
The Texas Blind Salamander merits appreciation for its physical attributes in several ways, to be certain. The most notable among these, however, is not doubt its eyes. Or rather, the lack of them. Technically, though, the awesome animal does actually have eyes.
These organs remain vestigial, though, and primitive in their general structure. Furthermore, they also lie under the skin, completely covered, and are thus nonfunctional. Given the habitat of the animal, though, such organs would be completely superfluous.
Unlike many of its related species, this creature displays no noticeable degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. It’s therefore quite difficult for an untrained individual to tell the genders apart, as they remain visually indistinguishable.
Both genders of this remarkable animal, in fact, actually remain relatively small in terms of size. That’s because mature specimens attain a maximum known body length of roughly 5.5 in (14 cm). Most individuals, however, reach a size closer to 3.5 in (9 cm).
The body shape of both sexes develops as highly elongated, again, like most of its many kindred. It also develops a relatively broad, flat head and snout. The flesh-covered eyes literally comprise nothing more than two small black dots under the skin.
Due to its environment, the Texas Blind Salamander has no need for pigmentation in its skin. It therefore presents a pasty, off-white color. The gills protrude from the throat, and represent the sole exception to this pattern, being bright red in color.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Urodela
- Family: Plethodontidae
- Genus: Eurycea
- Species: E. rathbuni
Texas Blind Salamander Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Obviously, the very name of this distinctive creature holds clues to its range of distribution. Unfortunately, both for it, and those of us who value Nature, it evolved as native to a highly restricted range of the world. It also appears that it never spread beyond that range.
This fascinating amphibian apparently evolved as endemic to a very small portion of what now constitutes the country of the United States, in North America. More specifically, the intriguing animal appears to only live within the boundaries of the state of Texas.
Even within that already restrictive range, the creature remains limited to a very tiny, and highly specific, zone of habitation. That’s due to the fact that specimens inhabit a total of only seven known locations, all located in a single county of the state; Hays county.
Within that territory, furthermore, it only makes its home in vey specific environments. These consist solely of water-filled caves, in the Purgatory Creek System, and along the San Marcos Fault. This therefore places its range solely in the vicintiy of the city of San Marcos.
Like its many relatives, the Texas Blind Salamander feeds as a carnivore. It also feeds opportunistically. Due to the nature of its habitat, it consumes various small prey, including snails, blind shrimp, and other tiny crustaceans, most of which flow into its area in the water.
Due to the extremes of its specific natural environment, researchers do not know a great deal about its life cycle. It’s believed, however, that the species breeds throughout the year. Its lifespan in the wild remains unknown, but captive specimens live up to 10 years.
- Next up among our choices for inclusion in this compilation of 3 Amazing North American Amphibians is the mind-boggling Axolotl.
- This extraordinary creation of Nature and evolution is a species of amphibian best known by the simple term used here. This actually derives from an Aztec word meaning water dog. For the moment, this natural marvel has no other general name.
- Within scientific circles, however, the creature remains better known by its technical title. Like many such terms, though, it’s somewhat hard for the layperson to pronounce. That’s because the wonder holds the formal moniker of Ambystoma mexicanum.
- The English zoologist, George Shaw, and the English illustrator, Frederick Nodder, hold joint credit for this name. The pair accomplished the first acknowledgement of it as a separate and distinct species. This notable action occurred in the year 1798.
- No matter which term one chooses to use, however, it’s a fascinating creation of evolution. It’s often confused with a related species, the tiger salamander. Today, it represents a frequent and intense subject of study due to its regenerative abilities.
- Sadly, the remarkable Axolotl appears to be rapidly declining in numbers. This unfortunate trend further seems to hold true throughout the entirety of its known, and limited, range. The IUCN therefore presently lists the animal as Critically Endangered.
- Its own habitat range limits its potential for maintaining a stable population base. Yet it also faces other threats as a species. Many of these are due directly to the actions of man. They include habitat loss, and of course, now the effects of climate change.
Axolotl Physical Description
The remarkable Axolotl possesses a truly extraordinary physical appearance, to say the least. It’s the characteristic that first catches the eye of any observor. Even the fully mature adult specimens display physical characteristics that are typical of other salamander larvae.
Despite this highly unusual trait, the animal does follow some patterns of growth common to its relatives. That’s true since the amphibian displays a fairly moderate degree of the anatomical trait of sexual dimorphism. In its case, this manifests in physical measurements.
Females of the impressive species tend to have wider body shapes. This occurs due to the presence of large numbers of eggs within their bodies. Males, meanwhile, obviously lack this. Otherwise the genders virtually indistinguishable without much closer examination.
Mature adults attain roughly the same growth. Although this varies signifcantly, it occurs on an individual basis, entirely regardless of gender. The average length equals between 6 – 18 in (15 – 45 cm). Most typically reach 9 in (23 cm), with greater seizes being quite rare.
The head of a mature Axolotl develops as relatively broad, and the eyes remain lidless. When young, individuals often show an allmost translucent shade. Among adults, their colors vary widely. These hues run from dark gray to green, brown, and occasionally even black.
Yet probably the most captivating physical feature of the animal is its gills. Among all other known salamanders, these disappear following maturity. With this creature, they remain. These six feather-like structures protrude from just behind each side of the head.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Urodela
- Family: Ambystomatidae
- Genus: Ambystoma
- Species: A. mexicanum
Axolotl Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The almost unbelievable Axolotl evolved as native to a region of the world that might surprise some people. One might expect such a marvel to being tropical in nature. It actually developed as native to a very specific portion of the continent of North America.
Within those boundaries, though, the amphibian appears in only one extremely tiny zone of habitation. That limited region lies inside the national boundaries of the country of Mexico. More exactly, it’s only known to exist in the immediate area of southern Mexico City.
Its entire known habitat comprises the waters of Lake Chalco and Lake Xochimilco, in the Valley of Mexico. The former now no longer exists, due to draining as a form of flood control. The latter still exists, but only as a shadow of its former self, limiting it further.
The species is adapted to the very specific environmental conditions found here. That includes a precise range of temperatures for the water they frequent. This falls to as low as 43 – 45F (6 -7 C) in winter. During summer, however, it rarely rises higher than 68F (20C).
The Axolotl also evolved as carnivorous in nature. In the wild, individuals consume various small prey locally available. These most typically include worms, insects, mollusks, and other arthropods. They also often feed on small fish. The species hunts via its sense of smell.
Subsequent to mating, females lay eggs individually, usually on various plants. In the wild, most live between 5 – 6 years. It’s their regenerative abilities that most distinguish them, though. They’re known to replace lost limbs, eyes, and even parts of the brain!
Wood Frog Facts
- Finishing up this listing about these 3 Amazing North American Amphibians we present you the incredibly adapted Wood Frog.
- This unassuming seeming creature holds the common name that we’re using here. Its scientific name, however, remains the complicated term of Lithobates sylvaticus. By either name, though, it’s a much more complicated animal than it seems.
- In point of fact, this fascinating amphibian serves as the focus of great attention among many researchers. This degree of attention occurs due to the nature of a truly astonishing evolutionary adaptation displayed by this natural wonder.
- To the complete astonishment of those who first realized it, this frog somehow evolved a method of surviving being partially frozen in winter. This marvel of Nature has, entirely naturally, developed special chemical reactions in its body that allow this.
- This process prevents complete freezing of the water in the cells and bloodstream of the Wood Frog from occurring. As long as no more than 65% of the water in the body freezes, the creature survives. This remains a unique adaptation among its kind.
- Quite fortunately, its population base appears to be stable, at least for the moment. As a result, the IUCN presently lists it as Least Concern on its Red List. The species does, however, remain at risk due to the ongoing and escalating effects of climate change.
Wood Frog Physical Description
Though sincerely incredible in some ways, the Wood Frog nevertheless represents an average-sized variety of frog. This example of the resourcefulness of Nature also, like related species, displays a slight degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism.
In its case, this trait manifests itself in terms of physical size, not appearance. As a result of this natural tendency, females of the species attain a slightly greater length than males. Overall, however, this length averages between 2.0 – 2.8 in (0.8 – 1.1 cm).
The natural coloring of the Wood Frog further serves to make one mistakenly believe it to be a simple form of amphibian. That’s because this aspect of its nature presents a pattern roughly shared by a great many other frogs throughout the world.
The adult individual typically appears dark brown or varying shades of tan on the upper body. The underside generally shows a pale green or yellow. This animal further, though, possesses the ability to alter its coloring at will as well, within this range of colors.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Anura
- Family: Ranidae
- Genus: Lithobates
- Species: L. sylvaticus
Wood Frog Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Fortunately for it, the impressive Wood Frog inhabits a relatively large area of the globe. More precisely, this natural habitat range consists of a broad range of North America. In fact, this extends from the southern Appalachian Mountains, near the east coast, to Alaska.
The unique amphibian is almost exclusively forest-dwelling by nature, however. It also primarily breeds in woodland vernal pools and freshwater wetlands. When not breeding, though, it may be in or near moist ravines, upland habitats, or freshwater swamps.
Most commonly, adult individuals of the Wood Frog spend the summer and spring in these and various other similar habitats. But, during the fall the animals migrate to neighboring uplands. This is where the majority of this species lives out the winter season.
It also primarily inhabits the upper layer of soil, just beneath layers of leaves. The amphibian further evolved as principally diurnal in nature. Consequently, it rarely emerges at night unless disturbed. At that time, it feeds opportunistically on small invertebrates.
3 Amazing North American Amphibians
We hope that each of you enjoyed reading, and hopefully learning from, this article we’ve written about these 3 Amazing North American Amphibians. It’s also our hope that doing so has left you with either a new or renewed appreciation for such wonders of Nature.
Unfortunately, however, many of their kindred around the world now find themselves facing strong threats to their continued existence as a species. Many of those dangers, in fact, stem from the actions of mankind. We must do all we can to protect and preserve them all.