Herpetofauna: One Life's List

Desmognathus imitator
Imitator Salamander

Sevier Co., Tennessee
April 25th, 2006

"...the salamanders weren't long in coming. First up was a new one for me - Plethodon jordani, the Redcheeked Salamander. This critter was crawling out in the open in the gap between two boulders. I was working an area around 10-12 feet from the stream banks, and I kept turning up jordani, one after the other - they were thick here! I saw nearly a dozen in fifteen minutes, of all sizes. Then I turned up a different-looking red-cheeked salamander - a desmognathid, not a plethodontid. Here was Desmognathus imitator, the Imitator Salamander. The body shape on this salamander is quite different from Plethodon jordani, but the red patch on each cheek is there, along with some faint red in the body markings. I had to stop and ponder who was imitating who here? Was there a scientific basis for determining the mimic? Or is it simply that Plethodon jordani was described to science first, leaving the really crappy name to the second place salamander? I still had much to learn about salamanders...

Day Five, The Great Salamander Swing







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