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True salamanders and newts
Temporal range: 89–0 Ma Cretaceous–recent[1]
Notophthalmus viridescensPCCA20040816-3983A.jpg
Notophthalmus viridescens from North America
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Urodela
Suborder: Salamandroidea
Family: Salamandridae
Goldfuss, 1820


Salamandridae is a family of salamanders consisting of true salamanders and newts. Salamandrids are distinguished from other salamanders by the lack of rib or costal grooves along the sides of their bodies and by their rough skin. Their skin is very granular because of the number of poison glands. They also lack nasolabial grooves. Most species of Salamandridae have moveable eyelids but lack lacrimal glands.

Nearly all salamandrids produce a potent toxin in their skin, with some species being deadly to many other animal species. With a few exceptions, salamandrids have patterns of bright and contrasting colours, most of these are to warn potential predators of their toxicity. They have four well-developed limbs, with four toes on the fore limbs, and (in most cases) five toes on the hind limbs. They vary from 7 to 30 cm (3 to 12 in) in length.[2]

Many species within this family reproduce by method of internal fertilization. Additionally, there are many species-specific courtship rituals that males perform to attract mates. These courtship rituals often employ pheromones to induce mating behavior in females. Pheromones have been discovered to be the driving force behind female mating responses in Alpine newts. These pheromones can induce behavior even when male visual epidemic characters and courtship dances are absent.[3] All species within the genus Lyciasalamandra are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young, without a tadpole stage. There are some species within the genus Salamandra are known to be viviparous too. Some newts are neotenic, being able to reproduce before they are fully metamorphosed.[2] The females of many species can store sperm for up to 6 months at a time.


The genus Taricha use the poison tetrodotoxin (TTX) that binds and blocks voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) in nerves and muscles. This blockage causes the cessation of action potentials, leading to paralysis and death. Tetrodotoxin is the most toxic non-protein substance known. The rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) uses tetrodotoxin and is considered the most poisonous species of newt. There are species and sub-species of Taricha that live in concurrent regions with a garter snake (Thamnophis) that has developed a resistance to the TTX poisoning. Species that inhabit regions with resistant Thamnophis snakes have evolved to increase their concentrations of TTX in an evolutionary arms race of predator versus prey.

Conservation Status (IUCN Redlist)[edit]

Conservation Status of Salamandridae
IUCN Classification Number of Species
Least Concern 32
Near Threatened 12
Vulnerable 16
Endangered 14
Critically Endangered 3
Lack of Data 1


Cladograms based on the work of Pyron and Wiens (2011)[4] and modified using Mikko Haaramo [5]


Archaeotriton basalticus



Mertensiella caucasica

Chioglossa lusitanica


Megalotriton filholi


Salamandra Salamandra salamandra (white background).jpg




Brachycormus noachicus


Palaeopleurodeles hauffi

Pleurodeles Erpétologie générale, ou, Histoire naturelle complète des reptiles (Pleurodeles waltl).jpg





Taricha Taricha torosa (white background).jpg


Koalliella genzeli

Oligosemia spinosa

Lissotriton Lissotriton vulgaris (white background).jpg




Triturus Triturus cristatus (white background).jpg


Ichthyosaura alpestris


Procynops miocenicus

Laotriton laoensis


Cynops Cynops pyrrhogaster (white background).jpg



The genus Salamandrina is the only member of the subfamily Salamandrininae, and the genera Chioglossa, Lyciasalamandra, Mertensiella, and Salamandra are grouped in the subfamily Salamandrinae, with sixteen other genera comprising the subfamily Pleurodelinae.[6] Those with a more thoroughly aquatic lifestyle are referred to as "newts", but this is not a formal taxonomic description.


Fossil record[edit]

Salamandrids have a substantial fossil record spanning most of the Cenozoic. The oldest known fossils date from the Thanetian (Paleocene), but these, and most other known fossil salamandrids apparently belong to the crown group.[7] The sole known stem-salamandrid is Phosphotriton sigei, from the Quercy Phosphorites Formation, which apparently dates from the Middle to Late Eocene.[8]


  1. ^ "Fossilworks: Salamandridae".
  2. ^ a b Lanza, B.; Vanni, S. & Nistri, A. (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 73–74. ISBN 978-0-12-178560-4.
  3. ^ Treer, Dag; Van Bocxlaer, Ines; Matthijs, Severine; Du Four, Dimitri; Janssenswillen, Sunita; Willaert, Bert; Bossuyt, Franky (2013-02-15). "Love Is Blind: Indiscriminate Female Mating Responses to Male Courtship Pheromones in Newts (Salamandridae)". PLOS ONE. 8 (2): e56538. Bibcode:2013PLoSO...856538T. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056538. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 3574087. PMID 23457580.
  4. ^ Pyron, R.A.; Weins, J.J. (2011). "A large-scale phylogeny of Amphibia including over 2800 species, and a revised classification of advanced frogs, salamanders, and caecilians" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61 (2): 543–853. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.06.012. PMID 21723399.
  5. ^ Haaramo, Mikko (2011). "Caudata – salamanders". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive.
  6. ^ "Amphibian Species of the World".
  7. ^ Marjanovic, D.; Laurin, M. (2014). "An updated paleontological timetree of lissamphibians, with comments on the anatomy of Jurassic crown-group salamanders (Urodela)". Historical Biology. 26 (4): 535–550. doi:10.1080/08912963.2013.797972. S2CID 84581331.
  8. ^ Tissier, J.; Rage, J.-C.; Boistel, R.; Fernandez, V.; Pollet, N.; Garcia, G.; Laurin, M. (2016). "Synchrotron analysis of a 'mummified' salamander (Vertebrata: Caudata) from the Eocene of Quercy, France". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 177 (1): 147–164. doi:10.1111/zoj.12341.

External links[edit]

Data related to Salamandridae at Wikispecies Media related to Salamandridae at Wikimedia Commons