A Sul Ross Professor Just Discovered This Legendary Salamander

The Reticulated Siren is the largest vertebrate found in the U.S. in over 100 years.

By Michael MarksDecember 18, 2018 10:54 am

You may think that the time of mythic beasts has passed – that perhaps the information age has snuffed out tales of mysterious creatures. But there are still some animals out there that have yet to be discovered. At least one of these, a rather big one, has been found.

Sean Graham is an assistant professor of biology, and curator of the Vertebrate Collections at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. He’s also part of a team that recently identified a long-rumored, but rarely seen amphibian called the Reticulated Siren.

Graham explains that the Reticulated Siren is a “really big salamander” found the Florida Panhandle and in southern Alabama. It is eel-like, in that it is long and skinny, growing to about two feet long. The only have front arms, bushy gils and a paddle tail. They don’t have back legs.

“They kind of look like a mermaid,” Graham says.

The Siren is probably the largest vertebrate species found in the U.S. in the last 100 years, Graham says. It lives in swamps with deep, thick aquatic vegetation. Sirens spend their days lodged in the swamp muck. That’s what made them so hard to find.

But they might look intimidating if you happen upon one,

“They’re totally harmless,” Graham clarifies.

Written by Morgan Kuehler.

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