December 2005 Archives

The Alliance for Zero Extinction has pulled together a website highlighting species threatened with extinction. One of the species listed is the Gorgan Salamander, Batrachuperus gorganensis. The Gorgan Salamander has only been found in Iran in a single cave and it's associated stream. Because all individuals occur within a very small range this species has been listed by IUCN because of the high risk of extinction.
An article found online at Science Magazine states that salamanders within the genus Thorius may have reaquired traits that were once lost. Found in Mexico, the salamanders within the Thorius genus are generally very small in comparison to other salamander species. The author, James Hanken of Harvard University, used genetic testing to identify several new species and determine a morphological history of the genus. His research found that four of the Thorius species had upper teeth and he assumed that these salamanders would likely come from a common ancestor in the morphological history. Interestingly, the salamanders with teeth were not closely related enough to have come from a common ancestor. Therefore, it appeared that the four identified species of the Genus had split off at different points in the morphological history and independently acquired, lost and then reacquired the teeth showing that Thorius salamander species may have retained the capability of making upper teeth.