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New U.S. salamander species discovered
Researchers have identified a new species of salamander — the first discovery in its family since 1944. The reticulated siren (Siren reticulata) is the largest vertebrate found in the United States in decades, the New York Times reports. “It’s eel-shaped and leopard-spotted, and it has no hind-limbs,” the Times writes of the species, which occupies pine forests in northern Florida and southern Alabama. “It grows to two feet long. And yet until recently, hardly anyone had ever seen it.” David Steen, a conservation biologist at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, authored a genetic analysis of the reticulated siren in PLOS One. “We’re hoping that one of the outcomes of this study getting out there is that it gets on people’s radar screens — funding agencies, state agencies — and they will begin to prioritize the work that is needed to fully understand the biology and conservation of this animal,” Steen told the Times.