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Sunday, October 20, 2013

A monster of a Salamander
(Photo: Zoological Society of London)


Chinese Giant Salamander is the largest in the world, sometimes growing to 5 foot 9 inches long!

I guess when most of us think about Salamanders we think of the cute little orange ones we see in our yards from time to time. These little guys grow to about 3 inches or so and many people keep them as pets.
 Red-spotted Newt (Photo by Bruce Lucas)
Salamanders are any of approximately 550 extant species of amphibians within the order Caudata.
They are typically characterized by a superficially lizard-like appearance, with slender bodies, short noses, and long tails. Salamanders have never more than four toes on their front legs and five on their rear legs, but some species have fewer. Their moist skin usually makes them reliant on habitats in or near water. Unique among vertebrates, they are capable of regenerating lost limbs, as well as other body parts. Most species of salamander have small teeth in both the upper and lower jaws.

Salamanders have thin skins, soft bodies and move rather slowly and at first sight might appear to be vulnerable to opportunistic predators. However, they have several effective lines of defense. Mucus coating the damp skin makes them difficult to grasp and may have an offensive taste or be toxic.
Salamanders have a poisonous skin secretion that is harmless to humans, just make sure to wash your hands after handling. Some Salamanders do bite, so be careful.

When attacked by a predator, a salamander may position itself in such a way that the main poison glands face the aggressor. Often these are on the tail which may be waggled or turned up and arched over the animal's back. The sacrifice of the tail may seem a worthwhile strategy if the salamander escapes with its life and the predator learns to avoid that species of salamander in future.

The Japanese Giant Salamander can grow up to about 5 feet long and weigh around 80 pounds. It can easily bite off a chunk of a person finger. It was once hunted as a food source but is now a national protected creature in Japan.  These monsters are a far cry from the cute like Orange Newts.

Japanese Giant Salamander
(Source: Natural History Museum in London)

Here is a photo of a person's had that was bitten by a Japanese Giant Salamander

Can you just imagine what people thought when the first people to see one of these large salamanders came and told others? When the person came back and told of a giant shiny snake like creature that went into the water. How they were terrified. How it "almost got my baby!". I'm sure people thought they were making it up or just crazy. That this monstrous creature was just a figment of an overactive imagination.  Over time of course people came to understand that these monsters were all around them and generally meant no harm. Now they are commonly known and accepted.

Your day will come bigfoot your day will come....


[Sources: Fox news, Wonderful Rife Blog, Wikipedia ]

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Sunday, October 20, 2013 1 comment » by Thomas Marcum
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