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The discovery sheds light on a region that is little studied but rich in species – ScienceDaily

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Science knows about 750 species of salamanders, a third of which live in North America. Now a team of researchers led by R. Alexander Pairan, an associate professor of biology at Robert F. Griggs University at George Washington University, has discovered a new species of marshy dark salamander from the coastal plain of the Persian Gulf in southeastern Mississippi and southwestern Alaska. .

The discovery expands knowledge of the biodiversity of the southeastern coastal plain of the United States, a candidate region that meets the global criteria for a biodiversity point. According to researchers, the region has been intensively studied for hundreds of years, but, nevertheless, still contains a rich indescribable diversity.

“This discovery shows us how much more needs to be learned even in our own backyards,” Payran said. Renowned naturalist E. O. Wilson called the region the “Amazon of America,” where woodpeckers and red wolves once lived. on a global scale, and we have not yet understood their true biodiversity. ”

Researchers have determined that a new species of salamander is known as Desmognathus pascagoulasimilar to another recently discovered species known as Desmognathus valentinei. However, some morphological, genetic, and geographical aspects of the new species differ. The researchers sequenced the genomes of D. valentinei and D. pascagoula samples that detected genetic variations in 881 different genes. They also compared body structure D. pascagoula with D. valentinei and Desmognathus conanti, another species found in the area, through collections from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. They found subtle but significant differences: D. pascagoula has a longer, slimmer body and narrower head and nostrils.

“Many of these dark salamanders are mysterious, which means they are indistinguishable to the naked eye, and that’s one of the reasons they’ve remained undiscovered for so long,” Payran said. “Only through genome sequencing can we see how different they really are. Then the exact measurements of the preserved specimens reveal tiny differences in things like the width of the head, which are otherwise imperceptible ”.

According to researchers, more work will be needed to give an idea of ​​both biology D. pascagoulaas well as its past and present geographical scope. Pairan urges other researchers in the field or civil scientists looking for the species to focus on images of the lateral surfaces of the body and head so that the “portholes”, stripes and muzzles are clearly visible. Future research may also reveal the presence of other undescribed species Desmagnate in the Coastal Plain in the southeastern United States

The National Science Foundation (DEB-1655737, DEB-1656111 and DGE-0947944) supported this study.

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Materials provided George Washington University. Note: Content can be edited by style and length.

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