Deformed foot

February 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

When the amphibians came out of hiding and hibernation last Saturday night, I made sure to collect a few to show to my grandkids, all of whom are fascinated by frogs and salamanders. One of the haul was a female Spotted Salamander, and given how rare a resource females are in the vernal pools I monitor, I wanted to return it to the breeding wetlands ASAP. So, after showing it off briefly at the bottom of the collecting bucket on Sunday, I brought it back that night. But when I photographed it one last time before releasing it in the water, I noticed something I hadn't seen before: its front left-foot was weirdly deformed. Everything else seemed fine, and the Mac was not having any trouble whatsoever moving about. However, given the ongoing problems biologists are encountering with amphibian deformities, which are more common in frogs than salamanders—and not, so far, encountered in my monitoring—I wanted to make a more careful study of this member of the Ambystoma maculatum clan, so back into the collecting jar it went. Today, a pretty chilly day, I took plenty of close-up pictures with the new micro lens. These will go to the experts for analysis; the female went back to the vernal to join the throng, now all laying low until the weather warms up again.


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