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Old 26th September 2004   #1
christopher
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I apologize if this is in the wrong forum, I wasn't quite sure which one it would best fit in, and this one seemed more ambiguous, so I chose it. I will understand if a mod or admin sees fit to move this into a different section of the forum. Excuse me if you see this post in another forum, I'm going to post it in a couple of different places to try to maximize the response.

Help identifying salamander (9/25/04)

I'm from Massachusetts where today I found an enigmatic salamander. I'm no Caudata expert (far from it!), but I am quite familiar with all the amphibians that can be found in
Massachusetts. This salamander does not fit the description of any salamanders that are supposed to exist in this area, but I have seen one before. I found the previous animal in July of 2003, unfortunately it was lost before I could study it. I made sure this one was securely enclosed, I didn't want to lose the opportunity twice! Both salamanders were found at Freetown-Fall River State Forest in Freetown, Massachusetts. Today was a warm day (around 75F while we were out), the ground was moist, and all day long we found a myriad of Plethodon cinerus. We also found many other amphibians, including 3 Bufo americanus, 1 Bufo (woodhousii) fowleri, 2 Rana sylvatica, 4 Rana palustris, and innumerable Rana clamitans. As an amateur, I really would feel comfortable if an expert of some sort could identify this for me, or at least give their opinions based on the description below. If there is any information that would help that I have left out, please let me know so I can provide it. There are pictures to accompany the description.


Description-

Size: Small-medium sized salamander. Approximately 3 and 1/4 inches (8.2 cm) long, of which the tail accounts for nearly half. Slender.

Location: Found under rotting log in Pine-Oak woodland habitat, about 50-75 yards from a semi-permanent vernal pool (not sure if it's official). The vernal pool itself it located in a grassy clearing that serves as a (presumedly illegal) dumpsite. The vernal pool is at the very south end of the clearing. The salamander was found in a wooded area about 20 feet east a large pile of rubbish, this being located at the very north end of the clearing.

Coastal grooves: 18.

Coloration: Dark orange-red with dark mottling on tail. Isolated, few, tiny dark flecks on back and sides. Dark shading and fleckling on head. It appears to be slightly transparent. Stomach is mottled pink and white.

Toe number: Four toes on fore feet, five toes on hind feet.

Other notes: I arduously searched for a naso-labial groove with a poor magnifying glass, I could not find one. That's not to discredit the possibility, as my resources are rather limited, and in my inexperience I might not have seen them despite the effort. In the pictures, there are also some debris on the tail and back end, I wanted to point this out as it may not be obvious enough in the picture, and it could appear to be additional mottling. This is not meant to be a scientific report, merely an inquiry.

http://img32.exs.cx/img32/1415/DSCN2707.jpg
http://img32.exs.cx/img32/9118/DSCN2708.jpg
http://img32.exs.cx/img32/2243/DSCN2709.jpg
http://img70.exs.cx/img70/3163/DSCN2696.jpg
http://img70.exs.cx/img70/5029/DSCN2697.jpg
http://img70.exs.cx/img70/3489/DSCN2699.jpg
http://img70.exs.cx/img70/6816/DSCN2704.jpg
http://img66.exs.cx/img66/4504/DSCN2706.jpg
http://img66.exs.cx/img66/1415/DSCN2707.jpg
http://img66.exs.cx/img66/2243/DSCN2709.jpg
http://img66.exs.cx/img66/6492/DSCN2710.jpg



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Old 26th September 2004   #2
william
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closest match i can find is gyrinophilius porphyriticus porphyriticus. but i'm probably wrong especially if it is rare/unrecorded in the state. and also what I know about lungless salamanders could fit comfortably on a small beer mat.



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Old 26th September 2004   #3
william
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it's a beauty though what ever it is



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Old 26th September 2004   #4
jennifer
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Yep, looks like you were lucky enough to find an erythristic morph. See:
http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Pl...cinereus.shtml



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Old 27th September 2004   #5
christopher
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Thanks for responding. I suppose erythristic adult salamanders must be quite rare, I've seen more redback/leadbacks than I could possibly count, but only two of these. I've seen regular redback/leadbacks since I was about 8 years old, they are far and away the most common salamander around here. If I see one, I usually see ten or more. They seemingly can be found anywhere around here, even in tiny wooded lots or the edges of them.

Leadback to redback ratio would probably be around 1 in 4, I wonder what the erythristic to redback ratio would be. Are there any other natural mutations that you know of? Amelanistic? Anerythristic? Hypomelanistic? Would the leadbacks could be considered a melanistic? I'd appreciate any information you can give me.



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Old 5th October 2004   #6
katrine
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Hi Christopher,

It is so funny that I found your posting because I was in your shoes last Friday (10/1) in Ashburnham, MA. I was teaching a fifth grade class and between sessions, I happened to flip over a log and found a northern redback nestled right up to a similar-sized all red salamander with a lighter belly and dark mottling on the end of the tail. I took herpetology in college and so I knew that this salamander was different. I had never known about the erythristic morph before I found your posting and the subsequent postings. Thanks!! I now know exactly what it was. Your wonderful pictures helped, too! I feel lucky. I was not fortunate enough to have my camera with me, though! Have you found out any more about the rarity?



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Old 7th October 2004   #7
christopher
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I've found a little bit more information about it.
I've asked questions that generally cement what has already been told to me on this forum, I am now 100% sure that it is, in fact, what some of the people here told me it was (erythristic P. cinereus). The other bit of info I learned was that, while they are quite uncommon, they are known to occur in certain parts of Massachusetts. Despite that, none have been found around the southcoast area, I'm assuming none at all throughout Bristol or Plymouth counties, likely none anywhere around Cape Cod either. That's all I've been able to find out, but I am quite curious and will try to find out as much as I can.



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