Virginia Officially Names A State Salamander!

in #science3 years ago (edited)

Virginia has quite a few state symbols, such as birds, trees, shells, fossils, songs, poems, and dogs (among many others) that residents have chosen over the years to represent our state. Earlier this month, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill officially declaring a new state icon for the Commonwealth: a state salamander. With the eastern United States being the salamander capital of the world, there are certainly plenty of species to choose from, but only one could claim the title: Pseudotriton ruber, the red salamander!

The red salamander is a medium sized salamander that typically grows to between 4 and 7 inches. A member of the Plethodontid family, it is a lungless salamander and respires through its skin; while they can be found on land, they spend the majority of their lives underwater in slow-moving streams. A fairly ravenous species, the red salamander will eat a variety of arthropods and even smaller amphibians, occasionally preying on other salamanders. Due to its larger size, the red salamander can have a significant impact on their local ecosystem, and their absence or presence can influence the community structure.

A 4-H group of students from Northern Virginia and the Williamsburg area requested and lobbied for the bill. A 4-H group is a network of organizations that gives kids opportunities to learn through hands-on projects in health, science and citizenship; together these students submitted their proposal, alongside drawings of the salamander.

“I was really impressed with them, they started and founded this organization known as the Salamander Savers. It’s a 4-H group, and they did their research, wanted to be involved in the process and see this through.” -Del. Eileen Filler-Corn Source

The naming of an official state salamander is a big win for conservation biologists. Amphibians are incredibly sensitive animals that serve as critical indicators of biological health. Over a third of all amphibian species worldwide are now threatened or endangered, many critically so, and herpetologists are struggling to raise awareness for this important group of animals. Thanks to the kids of Salamander Savers, we are now able to foster an appreciation for these salamanders as a Virginia icon!

Image Links: 1, 2, 3, 4

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I heard about the custom to declare something a state symbol, and I know of some birds and trees, but a state salamander is new to me... :)
But its a beauty. Astonishing this is a predator - since everybody can see it coming from miles away. Some flashing lights and it would be confused with a fire truck. :)

This is so cool. Kudos to the 4-H kids! Gotta love that little red salamander.

Stunning animal. Do you happen to know what sorts of temperatures these guys prefer? (Been doing some work on thermal optimum sin agamas so it's gotten me curious...)

looks freakishly pretty xD

It's weirdly amazing how States are named after animals. Not too common in the place where I come from though, except for some villages which are named after the local name of some animals.
Nice piece