Friday, December 6, 2013

Greater Siren

Siren lacertina
While it looks like an Eel, today's animal is actually an amphibian-- related to frogs, toads, and salamanders. The Greater Siren is its common name, and it is one of three water-living, practically leg-less Siren species.

The legs are there, but they are very, very small, and can sometimes be totally obscured by the large external gills that these creature have. These creatures are typically brown or black, and have faint stripes as juveniles (though they lose them over time).

Greater Sirens are some of the largest Amphibians found in North America-- they can grow up to 1m in length! They are found in the freshwater rivers and lakes of the southeast United States, where they hunt crayfish, small fish, snails, and other aquatic invertebrates.

The reproductive habits of these Amphibians is unknown. Mating has never been observed! They don't have the organs that typically go along with internal fertilization, but they lay their eggs like an internally fertilized amphibian would. Mysterious!

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Length up to 1m
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Amphibia -- Order : Caudata
Family : Sirenidae -- Genus : Siren -- Species : S. lacertina
Image : USGS

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