Three New Salamanders Found in Remote Cloud Forests

January 4, 2008

Three previously unknown salamanders have been discovered in remote cloud forests in Central America, scientists announced yesterday.

The newly revealed amphibians, including a dwarf salamander just the width of a fingernail and a creature with lurid markings resembling a poison frog's, were found in La Amistad International Park on the Costa Rica-Panama border.

(See photos of the new salamanders and their cloud forest home.)

The discoveries were made last year during expeditions led by Alex Monro of the Natural History Museum in London.

La Amistad is Central America's biggest rain forest reserve, but much it remains completely unstudied, Monro said.

The new species, which increase the number of salamanders known in Costa Rica to 45, probably don't exist anywhere else in world, the biologist added.

"These particular species will have very small ranges," he said. "This area hadn't been explored, so they just weren't known before."

Unusual Finds

The amphibians, which have not yet been named, include a dwarf salamander just 1.2 inches (3 centimeters) long. From the genus Nototriton, the tiny creature lives in mosses and leaf litter.

The other newfound species belong to Bolitoglossa, a genus that hunts small insects at night.

One species is deep brown in color with a pale cream underside.

The other, measuring three inches (eight centimeters) in length, has a bright red back and yellow blotches down each side. Its conspicuous coloration resembles the warning markings of poison arrow frogs, Monro noted.

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