Friday, July 13, 2012

Science Video Friday - Ohio's Biggest Salamander

Ohio has its fair share of amphibians, but none as unique as the hellbender. This huge salamander is as big as you're going to find in the US, with some individuals reaching lengths of almost 2.5 feet. Usually though, they will grow to a little over a foot long. This species has a beautiful scientific name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis. The genus name hints at its nifty way of breathing, meaning "hidden gill." While the hellbender has lungs, it can also absorb oxygen through folds in its skin, which look like wrinkles along its body.

Unfortunately, the hellbender is endangered throughout its range, causing concern for the species' survival. Scientists are working to reintroduce the hellbender to streams which it used to live in, and the first reintroduction of hellbenders occurred last month. It's hoped that these efforts will restore the hellbender to some of its former range and be the start of viable populations.

For more information about this release, the ODNR has more information.

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