A newt with conspicuous black spots distributed over the entire body. Dorsally olive green with small yellow or gold flecks, sometimes forming larger spots. A broken, wavy yellow dorsolateral line which runs from the base of the head and onto the tail is seen in some northern populations. Ventral coloration is yellow to orange. Adults are 3.5-5.7 cm snout to vent length (7-11 cm total length). Breeding males develop a tail fin and cornified toe tips. This species apparently does not have the well defined 'eft' stage seen in other eastern North American newts. Two subspecies are currently recognized. The Mexican newt (N. m. kallerti) is relatively dark dorsally and the black dorsal spots are sometimes indistinct against the ground color. The Texas black-spotted newt (N. m. meridionalis) is somewhat stockier in build. The larvae are greyish brown dorsally and pale buff ventrally. Larvae have lateral and ventrolateral rows of light dots on the sides, and also faintly visible bars on the sides of the head. Diffuse dark pigment on the venter sometimes forms a light midventral band. As larvae age, this darker ventral pigment becomes concentrated in small spots; larger spots appear on the sides. (Mecham 1968a; 1968b; Petranka 1998).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Mexico, United States
U.S. state distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Texas
From southeastern Texas, south of the San Antonio River, along the Coast Plain to northern Mexico, in Puebla and Veracruz. In mainly lowlying coastal areas, but also in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the Sierra de Tamaulipas. Habitat includes both seasonally ephemeral and permanent aquatic habitats. Individuals may be found >2 m deep in heavily vegetated sites (Mecham 1968a; 1968b; Petranka 1998).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Little is known about the natural history of this species. Breeding may occur in any month and is tied to rainfall. Individuals may not move very far when forced to leave drying ponds (Mecham 1968a; 1968b; Petranka 1998).
Genetically, N. meridionalis is more closely related to N. peristriatus than to N. viridescens (Reilly 1990).
Mecham, J. S. (1968). "On the relationship between Notopthalmus meridionalis and Notophthalmus kallerti." Journal of Herpetology, 2, 121-127.
Mecham, J. S. (1968). ''Notophthalmus meridionalis (Cope). Southern Newt.'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 74.1-74.2.
Petranka, J. W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
Reilly, S. M. (1990). "Biochemical systematics and evolution of the eastern North American newts, genus Notophthalmus (Caudata: Salamandridae)." Herpetologica, 46, 51-59.
Written by Meredith J. Mahoney (molge AT yahoo.com), Museum of Vertebrate Zoology
First submitted 2000-07-28
Edited by M. J. Mahoney, Kevin Gin (12/03) (2003-12-04)
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