March 2007 Archives

Researchers at Penn State and U of Kentucky exposed streamside salamanders to atrazine, a common herbicide, at 3 different concentrations and found that atrazine effects salamander mortality both at initial exposure and much later in life. Salamanders that survived the intial exposure to the atrazine had significantly lower survival 421 days after being exposed. Atrazine and possibly other herbicides may be having larger, long term effects on the environment than previously thought.
European scientists have created a robotic salamander, named Salamandra robotica, to demonstrate how life may have made the transition from an aquatic environment to a terrestrial one. Because salamanders have the ability to undulate their tail to swim but also to crawl on land, they are considered an evolutionary key for the movement of life from sea to land. The robot mimics these nerves in electrical circuitry and demonstrates that by increasing the electrical current that movement changes from a four-legged crawl to an undulating swimming motion. Essentially, the scientists theorize that this small change in the increase of electrial current, not an entirely new neural network, is what it took to move life onto land.

cNET has produced a video of the robotic salamander:

Video: Robotic animal thrives on land, in sea

Back in August, a base for the protection and artificial breeding of Chinese Giant Salamanders began in China. According to the article, Jing'an county has had a breeding center since 1974 and a nature reserve to protect the salamander since 1976. Apparently, this new base is either a renovation of the existing base or a completely new base. I've attempted to gather information on this research base but have not been successful. What they are using the salamanders for? They have produced 12,000 salamanders but have only "tried" to release the salamanders in the wild. Are they being produced for food or health and beauty products?