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Finca Chiblac Salamander

Central America

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Bradytriton silus

Endangered

There is severe habitat loss taking place at the type locality due to the settlement of refugees and expanding agriculture

Despite numerous searches for this elusive species, it was thought to be lost to science until its recent rediscovery in the remote montane cloud forests of Guatemala. The sole member of its genus, the distinctive Finca Chiblac salamander diverged from all other amphibians more than 30 million years ago. In evolutionary terms, this salamander is more distantly related to any other species than humans are to baboons and mandrills!

The generic name of this salamander, Bradytriton, refers to the slow and lethargic movement of this salamander and the specific name, silus, refers to its short, broad, wide snout. Unfortunately, the population of this unique species is declining due to severe habitat loss from the settlement of refugees and expanding agriculture. The species has not been recorded from any protected areas, but there are plans to establish a reserve in the region. Monitoring is needed to establish its current population status.

The species is endemic to extreme north western Guatemala, on the eastern slopes of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes, around 1,310m above sea level, with a second area recently discovered at Finca Ixcansán at 1,640 m above sea level, about 50km from the original area. The species inhabits humid cloud forest with approximately 5-6 metres of annual rainfall. The animals were found under pieces of wood and logs. It presumably breeds by direct development; where there is no intermediate larval stage and new-born emerges from its egg as a miniature version of the adult.