Contrary to its common name, the common splayfoot salamander has undergone a recent, catastrophic population decline and has not been seen since the 1980s.
This once abundant species is endemic to Mexico and is found in bromeliads and moss in cloud forests at 1,000 to 1,200 metres above sea level. Strikingly, they have tails that are longer than their body.
This species is part of the Plethodontidae, the largest salamander family, comprising almost two thirds of all known species. They are thought to have diverged from all other amphibian species over 100 million years ago, in the Early Cretaceous. They are as distantly related to all other amphibian lineages as humans are to elephants, and emerged when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth!
The main threat to this Critically Endangered species is the deforestation of its cloud forest habitat. The species has not been found in any degraded habitats so maintenance of its pristine habitat is important for its survival. This species is protected by Mexican law under the “Special Protection” category.
- Order: Caudata
- Family: Plethodontidae
- Population: Possibly extinct
- Trend: decreasing
This species is endemic Mexico, and is only known from central Veracruz, Mexico, at 1,000-1,200 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in bromeliads and moss in cloud forests. It reproduces by direct development whereby offspring emerge from the eggs as miniature versions of adults and bypass a larval stage.