6 species in 2 genera
Commonly Called Mudpuppies, Waterdogs, Olms
Photo by Michael Graziano
(Click for family gallery)
This family is exclusively aquatic, paedomorphic salamanders with large, red, filamentous, external gills and laterally compressed tail fins. They are distributed in Europe (Proteus, up to 200 mm) and North America (Necturus, up to 400 mm). One species of Proteus and five species of Necturus are currently recognized. The Olm, or European blind cave salamander, Proteus anguinus, is perhaps the rarest and strangest of all extant salamanders in museum collections. It has reduced eyes, pale/translucent skin, and lives in caves. Little information is available on the reproductive biology of these salamanders, although P. anguinus seems to be capable of some degree of viviparity through the birth of advanced young.Written by AmphibiaWeb
Notable Family Characteristics
- External gills, elongate form with laterally compressed tails
- Habitat includes lakes, rivers and streams or caves and underground water sources as in Proteus
- Internal fertilization
- Some morphological characters include: 1) maxillae, prefrontals, septomaxillae, ypsiloid cartilage, and nasals absent; 2) teeth on splenial and pterygoid; 3) two pairs of larval gill slits; 4) external gills present; 5) reduction in number of toes; 6) 19 pairs of chromosomes.
- Distribution disjunct between eastern North America and Europe
Roelants, K., D. J. Gower, M. Wilkinson, S. P. Loader, S. D. Biju, K. Guillaume, L. Moriau, and F. Bossuyt. 2007. Global patterns of diversification in the history of modern amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104: 887–892.
Larson, Allan. 2006. Proteidae. Mudpuppies, waterdogs. Version 23 August 2006. http://tolweb.org/Proteidae/15449/2006.08.23 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/
Subfamily Necturinae (5 species)
Genus Necturus (5 species) [subfamily Necturinae]
Necturus (Necturus) alabamensis AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video Necturus (Necturus) lewisi AmphibiaWeb account no photos no sound/video Necturus (Necturus) maculosus AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video Necturus (Parvurus) beyeri AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video Necturus (Parvurus) punctatus AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Subfamily Proteinae (1 species)Genus Proteus (1 species) [subfamily Proteinae]
Proteus anguinus AmphibiaWeb account photos no sound/video
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: https://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed:
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