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Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal

Image: A Chirqui Fire Salamander (๐ต๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘’) encountered at night on a fern. Photo: Roger Morales.

Eighteen new species of reptiles and amphibians were described worldwide during May 2022, comprising three salamanders, four snakes, five lizards and six frogs. In addition, the Blue-bellied Kukri Snake (๐‘‚๐‘™๐‘–๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘š๐‘’๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ข๐‘ ) was re-discovered in India. No additional specimens of this snake were documented since it was described 112 years ago. Remarkably, a road-killed specimen was found 267 km from the only other known locality!

The new salamanders are from three countries โ€“ Panama, China, and the United States of America. The Chirqui Fire Salamander (๐ต๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘’) from Panama is an arboreal species with a unique pink colour and bright flame-scarlet speckles, and is currently known only from the rain forest in La Amistad National Park.

Image: The holotype specimen of the Chirqui Fire Salamander (๐ต๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘’) displaying the typical body colouration of this species. Photo: Marcos Ponce.

The Jiangxi Giant Salamander (๐ด๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘—๐‘–๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘”๐‘ฅ๐‘–๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘ ) from China is similarly restricted to a single nature reserve in Jiangxi Province (hence the name) and has highlighted the importance of this type of reserve for conservation efforts. The Pascagoula Dusky Salamander (๐ท๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘Ž) was found in six populations in swampy habitat within the Gulf Coastal Plain of Mississippi and Alabama, USA. It was previously considered to be a different species, but has now been shown to be smaller, with a different colour pattern (circular white spots on the sides). It is genetically distinct, behaviourally different (secretive, occupying a different microhabitat) and geographically isolated.

Image: A Pascagoula Dusky Salamander (๐ท๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘Ž) in leaf litter showing the white spots on the flanks typical of this species. Photo: David Breamer.

Our understanding of the world is constantly advancing. What is today considered one species may tomorrow be found to constitute several cryptic species, as was the case with the Dusky Salamander species group that the Pascagoula Dusky Salamander was considered part of. The re-discovery of the Blue-bellied Kukri Snake shows that it may be worth keeping an eye out for the unusual in even the most mundane of places, such as the sides of roads!

๐—ง๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐˜† Dr Cora Stobie (Department of Animal and Plant Systematics).

Photographs by Roger Morales (๐ต๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘’ on a fern), Marcos Ponce (๐ต๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘™๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘’ on a yellow leaf) and Dr David Breamer (๐ท๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘”๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘Ž). All photographs reproduced with permission. Many thanks to Abel Batista, Roger Morales, Marcos Ponce and David Breamer for the use of these photographs.

The source for the new species discussed here is the blog โ€˜Species New to Scienceโ€™ by pskhun at http://novataxa.blogspot.com/2022/05/.

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