Oedipina maritima
Maritime Worm Salamander
Subgenus: Oedopinola
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Hemidactyliinae
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Critically Endangered (CR)
CITES Appendix I
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.


This is a relatively small, slender species; adult SL for 4 males is 39.7-46.2 mean 43.3; for 3 females 34.6-44.3, mean 39.7. The head is small, narrow, cylindrical and generally pointed, with an elongated, blunt-tipped snout; SL averages 10.3 times head width in 4 males (range 9.7-11.3) and 9.8 in 3 females (9.4-10.3). SL is 6.5 times head length in both males (6.2-7.1) and females (5.1-7.2). Nostrils are tiny and barely discernable. Nasolabial protuberances are inconspicuous in females but slightly enlarged in males, where they extend slightly as somewhat swollen light-tipped extensions over the underslung lower jaw. Snouts are more pointed in females than in males as a consequence. Eyes are small and inconspicuous, barely extending beyond the lateral margins of the head; they are directed mainly laterally, rather than frontally as is the situation in most bolitoglossines. The suborbital groove does not intersect the lip. There are 1-2 slightly enlarged premaxillary teeth in males, located in a far forward position outside the mouth, lying just in front of the small, ill-defined mental gland that lies at the extreme anterior margin of the lower jaw; the 1-2 premaxillary teeth in females are tiny and located well within the mouth. Maxillary teeth, when present, are tiny and inconspicuous; they range in number from 0 (3 males)-8 (mean 2.0) in 4 males, and from 2-8 (mean 5.3) in 3 females. Vomerine teeth average 15.5 (13-18) in 4 males and 17.3 (15-20) in 3 females; the very small teeth are borne in a long row. There are 17 costal grooves between the limbs, counting one each in the axilla and the groin (18 trunk vertebrae). Limbs are relatively short; limb interval averages 8.1 in 4 males (7.5-8.5) and 8.0 in 3 females (7.5--9). Hands and feet are tiny, narrow and elongate. The digits are syndactylous, although the tips of the longest central digits are free. The free tips are slender and sharply pointed, and the points are often curved toward the midline axis of the limb (Fig. 5). Fingers, in order of decreasing length, are 3-2-4-1; toes are 3-4-2-5-1. The tail is round, narrow in cross section and relatively long, tapering along the last third of its length. Tails of most individuals may be at least partly regenerated, but all of them greatly exceed SL; SL averages 0.59 times tail length in 4 males (0.53-0.68) and 0.57 in 2 females (0.53-0.62).

Color Variability.
Dorsal coloration is lighter in juvenile and submature (KU 116681) specimens, markedly contrasted with the dark flank coloration. They show a marked dark mid-vertebral line running from the posterior edge of the head to the tail origin where it fades away. Tail dorsal color in juveniles is very light, but it is not sharply separated by a defined line as it is on the body. Some adult specimens (e.g., USNM 529983) show a more contrasted light tail pattern, always less developed than in juveniles. The extent and definition of the anterior light lateral band varies from well marked and broad at the "parotoid" level, to almost completely absent (USNM 195536), as does the dorsal light band. White dots along the flanks are denser in some specimens; these specimens also have a few pale dots extending to the venter. Hatchlings display a bold pattern of very dark flanks and side of the head and tail with a broad light yellowish dorsal band, extending from the snout to the tail tip. The venter is pale yellow. The main light areas show an obscure suffusion of melanic pigmentation especially evident in the mid-dorsal portion of the trunk and near the tail tip.
Color notes were recorded in life for USNM 529985 by R. I. Crombie, as follows: Dorsally medium brown with black mottling and silver flecks. A narrow black lateral area, less pronounced on tail, bordered ventrally with an area of intense silver freckling (less concentrated on lateral tail). Belly pale, unmarked gray but with some silvery flecking on throat. An indistinct chestnut postocular stripe and indistinct dull chestnut on snout. Iris dark. Crombie recorded the following color notes for USNM 195321: Dorsally medium brown with black mottling and silver flecks. Belly pale, unmarked gray but with some silver flecking on throat (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Panama


View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
This species is known only from Isla Escudo de Veraguas. If it is restricted to this island it is the only tropical salamander that is endemic to an island. At least three species of this genus occur on the adjacent mainland, two of which appear to be undescribed. KU 116682, a 17.5 SL juvenile from the mouth of Rio Cahuita, Prov. Bocas del Toro, Panamá, 1 m. elev., cannot be classified with certainty but may be assignable to O. maritima

Salamanders on Isla Escudo de Veraguas were collected in decaying fronds and associated moist litter near a fallen palm in a coconut palm grove in late March, 1991. The eggs were found inside a pile of coconut trash at the base of a tree (Terminalia) on the beach at Guayami Settlement, SE part of island, less than 5 m from the ocean. The eggs belonged to two clutches, each containing 6 embryos; there is one rotted egg that may belong to either clutch. One clutch includes totally unpigmented embryos that are well-formed and have well-formed limbs, but the limbs, while moderately long, have no digits or digital rudiments. The other clutch includes near full-term embryos that are well pigmented (see Color Variability, above). These embryos began hatching on the way back to camp from the field. One newly hatched embryo is 11.8 mm in total length (8.7 SL) and retains gills. The gills are three lobed, one relatively large and palmate, a second smaller but palmate, and one relatively large and slender, and branched at the base (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).

The name maritima is derived from maritimus (L), meaning of the sea, in reference to the type locality of this species on a low-lying island in the Caribbean Sea.

Oedipina maritima does not resemble O. alleni in morphology (it is more slender and has a narrower and more pointed head, and it generally lacks dorsal light coloration) and it is very distinct in its DNA sequences. It differs from O. parvipes from central Panamá profoundly in DNA sequences (4.8-4.9% for 16S, 7.8-8.1% for cyt b), but appears to differ otherwise only in coloration (we have no allozyme data). However, we also note that evidence of conspecificity of Panamanian and Colombian populations of O. parvipes is weak, and A. H. Brame, Jr. II and D. B. Wake have long planned to undertake a detailed analysis of this question once adequate material is available. Accordingly, we decided to describe what is clearly an independent taxon at this time and reserve a complete analysis of Panamanian and South American members of this genus to a later date (Garcia-Paris and Wake 2000).


García-París, M., Wake, D. B., and Price, A. H. (2000). ''Molecular phylogenetic analysis of relationships of the tropical salamander genera Oedipina and Nototriton, with descriptions of a new genus and three new species.'' Copeia, 2000(1), 42-70.

Written by David B. Wake (wakelab AT, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
First submitted 2000-10-31
Edited by Arie van der Meijden and M. J. Mahoney (2002-02-17)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2002 Oedipina maritima: Maritime Worm Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 23, 2017.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2017. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Oct 2017.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.