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Salamandridae

Salamandridae (newts, ‘true’ salamanders; class Amphibia, order Urodela) A family of salamanders in which the adults have long palatal teeth, lungs, a cylindrical body, and well-developed legs and tail. The skin of some species contains powerful toxins. Some (e.g. Salamandra atra, alpine salamander or black salamander, of the Alps, Albania, and Hercegovina, and S. salamandra, fire salamander, of Europe and the Near East) are ovoviviparous. In S. atra one larva develops in each oviduct and feeds on the other eggs, so two fully developed young are produced after (in high-altitude forms) two-three years' development; in S. salamandra the larval phase is short. S. salamandra is a nocturnal carnivore, preying on terrestrial invertebrates. ‘Newts’ are generally placed in the genus Triturus. T. cristatus (crested newt or great warty newt) grows up to 18 cm long and has a mottled, blackish-brown back, orange-yellow belly with black spots, its skin is warty, and the male develops a high, serrated, breeding crest. T. vulgaris (smooth newt) is the common newt of much of Europe, its range extending into Siberia; males develop a serrated breeding crest. Males of T. helveticus (palmate newt) have webbed hind feet and develop a low, smooth, breeding crest that ends in a thread-like extension of the tail. Those of T. marmoratus (marbled newt) of south-western Europe develop black and yellow breeding crests, represented in the female by a red dorsal line; the body colour for both sexes is green with black marbling. There are about 90 species in the family, both terrestrial and aquatic, from Europe, N. America, N. Africa, and parts of Asia.

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