Monday, July 13, 2009

Newly Discovered Salamander Should Make Us Look Closer

(Photo courtesy of UGA)
News surfaced last week that a new species of salamander, dubbed the patch-nosed salamander and representing an entirely new genus, was discovered near a heavily traveled roadway in Toccoa, Georgia.

This newly described animal "represents the first new genus of four-footed creature discovered in the United States in 50 years.” The fact that the diminutive amphibian was serendipitously discovered during a routine biological survey in a highly populated area really emphasizes the importance of the local-level conservation that I’ve written about in several posts. So much emphasis is often placed on traveling abroad to wild & exotic locations to search for rare flora & fauna that we may possibly run the risk of overlooking the biological treasures right beneath our very noses.

After the initial specimen was discovered, others examples of this 2" long salamander were found in nearby Northwestern, South Carolina; only miles from my home. I feel certain that this area, which is considered part of the epi-center of salamander diversity, holds many more species waiting to be discovered. Although the conservation community in our region has made some great gains in recent years, there is still much work to be done. It is my hope that this discovery will prompt other researchers, biologists, conservationists and photographers to take a closer look at their own backyards.

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