TRITURUS MARMORATUS AND TRITURUS PYGMAEUS: THE MARBLED NEWTS
Male Triturus marmoratus (left) displaying to female (right). Photo by Max Sparreboom.
Mating behaviour: male shown in black, female in white. From Arntzen & Sparreboom (1989). This behaviour is common to both species, as well as the four species in the T. cristatus group.
The marbled newts are similar in size and build to the newts of the crested newt group, being around 14 cm. in total length, and rather heavily built. The upper surface is marked with black and green marblings, though the underneath is dull in colour. Breeding males develop a crest marked with black and white bands, while females and juveniles have an orange dorsal stripe.
The distribution of these species is confined to the Iberian peninsula, and the western part of France. In north-western France, there is a slight overlap in range between this species and T. cristatus, and hybrids may occur in this area.
T. pygmaeus was, until recently, regarded as the subspecies T. marmoratus pygmaeus.
This species is distributed over the French part of this species' range, and also over the northern half of Iberia. The belly colouration of this subspecies is blackish with fine white dots. The breeding male has a high crest, which is much lower at the base of the tail, though it widens again on the tail itself.
The Pygmy, or Southern, marbled newt is rather smaller, usually reaching around 11 cm. in total length. This form exhibits different belly colouration; the ventral surface is creamy yellow with large black spots, and small white spots. In addition, the crest of the breeding male is lower, and dips only slightly at the base of the tail. In the Donana National Park in southern Spain, a population has been found that is even smaller than usual for this subspecies; adults averaged 7.7 cm. total length.
Arntzen, J. W. & Sparreboom, M., 1989. A phylogeny for the Old World newts, genus Triturus: biochemical and behavioural data. J. Zool., Lond. 219: 645-664. [ABSTRACT]
Diaz-Paniagua, C., Mateo, J. A., and Andreu, A. C., 1996. Age and size structure of populations of small marbled newts (Triturus marmoratus pygmaeus) from Donana National Park (SW Spain). A case of dwarfism among dwarfs. J. Zool. Lond., 239(1): 83-92.
Garcia-Paris, M., Herrero, P., Martin, C., Dorda, J., Esteban, M., and Arano, B., 1993. Morphological characterization, cytogenetic analysis, and geographical distribution of the Pygmy Marbled Newt, Triturus marmoratus pygmaeus (Wolterstorff, 1905) (Caudata, Salamandridae). Bijdr. Dierkd., 63: 3-14