August 2010 Archives

a giant salamander festival

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GiantSalamanderFestival.jpg August 8th, 2011, I am Japan bound for the Hanzaki Festival in Yubara Onsen.

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A salamander blog has now been added to Blogarama - The Blog Directory.

Part field guide and part reference, I highly recommend "Salamanders of the Southeast". Written by Joe Mitchell and Whit Gibbons, the book is reminiscent of Amphibians and Reptiles of Minnesota and Salamanders of the United States and Canada, both favorites of mine, in regards to the well written species accounts, but it stands apart in its unique photographs. The detailed photographs show overall coloration, defensive postures and breeding tactics from salamander species found in the Southeastern United States. The book also contains a very handy sidebar of concise reference information on each species and is produced with a flexible cover something the others lack.

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I remember at least 5 years ago finding a large adult Tiger Salamander that had been struck by a car, apparently having a broken jaw. I took the salamander to large pond near where I found him where I am sure he died. I didn't know what else to do. Today, with resources available at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, MN, I wouldn't be surprised if the injured salamander I found years ago would have survived. Don't believe me. Look at the effort put forth to save this American Toad.

My daughter (shown in the picture above) began an internship at the Center earlier this year and thanks to her, I had the unique opportunity to tour the Center in Roseville, MN. Before my visit, I had heard about the extreme level of care and ingenious methods that had been developed to rehab these animals. During the visit, I found everything she said to be true. I found a staff that was very welcoming and knowledgeable. I got a chance to see various wildlife, mostly opossum, raccoon and Mallard ducks in different stages of rehabilitation and obviously, got to see the wildlife I was most interested in, amphibians, which turned out to be a few Gray Tree Frogs which looked close to being wild and free again.

The algae, Oophila amblystomatis, and Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, eggs occur together in a mutualistic relationship. The algae increase the oxygen around the eggs and the growing embryo provides nitrogen to the algae. Recently, scientists took a closer look and learned that the algae occur inside cells on the body of the salamander and may be directly supplying nutrients to the growing salamander. This discovery details the only known occurrence of photosynthesis occurring within the cells of a vertebrate and brings about many new questions. How do the algae cells enter the embryo? Why doesn't the embryo reject the algae cells as a foreign body? Do other salamander species maintain a similar relationship with algae as embryos?