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Taylor's Salamander

Taylor's salamander, Ambystoma taylori, is a neotenic salamander species from Puebla, Mexico.

Taylor's salamander is found only in Laguna Alchichica, a high-altitude crater lake 24 miles southwest of Perote, Puebla, Mexico. It was described in 1982 by Brandon, Maruska, and Rumph, and named for Edward Harrison Taylor. However, the species had been known to science long before then. Taylor himself attempted to describe the species as Ambystoma subsalsum in 1943, but mistakenly used a Mexican tiger salamander as the holotype. This rendered the name invalid, and made into a synonym for the tiger salamander. James Anderson extensively catalogued "subsalsum" in his 1960's field-work, applying the name to actual population that now comprises taylori.

The salamander is moderately sized, with a typical length of 6-8 inches It is a neotenic species, which means that it retains its caudal fin and external gills into adulthood, never undergoing complete metamorphosis. It has It is entirely aquatic, breeding and laying its eggs in the same lake where it lives. Taylor's salamanders are yellowish in color, with dark spots along their dorsal side. They have relatively short, thick external gill stalks. Their heads are quite large, and their limbs underdeveloped, as in most Ambystoma neotenes. They feed by buccal suction, and basically eat anything that fits into their mouths.

Habitat

The taylori habitat in Lake Alchichica is extremely salty, with a salinity reading of 2000-5000. It is also very alkaline, with a pH of 8.5-10. The lake's water has a temperature range of 18-21 degrees Celsius. The salamanders typically hide below the water line, hidding under overhangs in the crater's edge.

Not much is known about its present status or numbers.

References

  • Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is critically endangered
  • Edward H. Taylor (1943.) "A New Ambystomid Salamander Adapted to Brackish Water", Copeia, Vol. 1943, No. 3 (Oct. 15, 1943), 151-156. .
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