Monzón’s moss salamander is a Critically Endangered amphibian endemic to Guatemala, but very little is known about this species as it was only discovered in the late 1990s.
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 genus Cryptotriton is believed to have diverged from all other plethodontids more than 40 million years ago, several millions of years before humans last shared a common ancestor with capuchins and tamarins.
Very little is known about this species and much information is inferred from what is known of their close relatives. Direct development of the young occurs within the eggs and they hatch as miniature adults. This whole process is independent of a water body since the eggs are laid in damp locations on the land, making this a truly terrestrial (or land-dwelling) species.
The major threat to this species is habitat loss around La Unión as a result of extensive logging and agricultural expansion. This species is not known from any protected areas and the protection of the remaining habitat is urgently required.
- Order: Caudata
- Family: Plethodontidae
- Population: Rare
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 45mm
This species is found only from near La Unión, Zacapa, Guatemala, at 1,570 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in a montane moist forest in cloud forest conditions, in an area where several isolated mountain peaks arise from relatively dry lowlands. They are partly terrestrial and party arboreal, where they can be found in bromeliads.