Swampy Thing: The Giant New Salamander Species Discovered in Florida and Alabama

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Sometimes you go into a Florida swamp to study turtles and end up encountering a two-foot-long salamander previously undescribed by science. That’s what happened to biologist David Steen back in 2009 when he pulled up one of his turtle traps from the swampy waters around Elgin Air Force Base. The trap didn’t contain turtles, but he did find a giant, eel-like salamander resting comfortably inside. "It was just kind of sitting on the bottom of the trap, waiting patiently," Steen said. Steen was a lot more excited than the animal in front of him. He knew he was looking at an amphibian few people had ever seen before. Steen said he first started hearing rumors of a massive undiscovered salamander species during his graduate-student days at Alabama’s Auburn University in early 2007. "My advisor, Craig Guyer, was showing me around their Museum of Natural History and he kind of tapped his knuckles on this big specimen jar," Steen recounted. The contents were labeled as another large salamander species, the greater siren ( Siren lacertina ), but Guyer suggested that it didn’t look quite right. "He said it’s probably a new species just waiting for someone to describe it." Others, […]

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