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|Triturus cristatus, the Great Crested Newt|
Italian Crested Newt (T. carnifex)
Triturus (from Triton, son of Poseidon and Greek: ura, meaning tail) is a genus of newt, commonly known as the crested or marbled newts, depending on the species. They are found across most of Europe, parts of Russia and the Middle East. The genus includes the Great Crested Newt, the Italian Crested Newt, the Danube Crested Newt, the Southern Crested Newt, the Marbled Newt and the Pygmy or Southern Marbled Newt.
Members of this genus spend most of the year ashore only visiting the water in the breeding season for reproduction. Triturus exhibits the most complex courting ritual of all the newts. After performing a courtship display, the male deposits a spermatophore (a small packet of sperm) in the path of the female. He then moves sideways in front of the female to gently encourage and move her into a position where the spermatophore will be pressed against, and picked up by, her cloaca (reproductive and kidney opening). The female lays two or three eggs a day between March and mid July, until 200–300 eggs have been laid. The eggs are laid on submerged aquatic plants, and carefully wrapped in leaves. The larvae hatch after about 3 weeks and metamorphose into air-breathing juveniles about 4 months later. Great Crested Newts become sexually mature adults between two and three years of age.
The genus Triturus is a problem for taxonomists. One member, the Southern Crested Newt, has been classified eighteen different ways, and likewise the Marbled Newt. Triturus has recently been split into four genera: Lissotriton for the small bodied species (formerly T. boscai, T. helveticus, T. italicus, T. montandoni and T. vulgaris), Ommatotriton for the banded newts (formerly T. ophryticus and T. vittatus), Mesotriton or Ichthyosaura (containing only the Alpine Newt, formerly T. alpestris) and the remainder remain in Triturus.