Cryptobranchidae (see family information on Tree of Life site)
The name indicates one of their paedomorphic features, gill slits
(Kryptos(Gr.)=hidden, Branchion(Gr.)=gill). These are large to very
large (up to 1520 mm in Andrias davidianus,
the largest salamander in the world) aquatic salamanders.
Cryptobranchid coloration varies, ranging from brownish gray to yellow,
green, and orange (C. alleganiensis at night during breeding
season). All are active at night and feed on a variety of organisms,
including worms, mollusks, crustaceans, lampreys, fish, frogs,
reptiles, and small mammals. Cryptobranchids are specialized suction
feeders; due to the presence of flexible symphyseal cartilage at the
front of the lower jaw (where both bones meet), they are able to
suction feed with the left or right side of their mouth. Males are
territorial and make small nests under rocks where eggs are deposited
and externally fertilized. Some morphological characters for the group
are: 1) ribs unicapitate; 2) operculum fused to the ear capsule (also
present in Sirenidae); 3) lacrimals absent; 4) prootic and exoccipitals
separate; 5) fleshy skin folds; 6) large size; 7) spiracle remains open
Photo by Brad Moon
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology
and conservation. [web application].
2005. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: http://amphibiaweb.org/.
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