Sirenidae


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Related to Sirenidae: Proteidae, Cryptobranchidae, genus Siren, Amphiumidae

Sirenidae

 

a family of amphibians of the order Caudata. The body is long and cylindrical and lacks hind legs. The external gills remain throughout the animal’s life. The eyes are small and lidless. There are horny plates instead of maxillary bones.

Modern species of Sirenidae seem to be neotenic forms that lost their capacity for metamorphosis as a result of secondary adaptation to an aquatic mode of life. There are three species belonging to the two genera Siren and Pseudobranchus. The Sirenidae occur in the northeastern part of North America. The most common species, S. lacertina, is up to 70 cm long and has four-digited limbs and three pairs of gill slits. The amphibian is dark brown above but lighter below. It inhabits bogs and the shores of heavily overgrown bodies of water; it feeds on invertebrates and small fishes.

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All salamanders possess anterior ventral glands (character 10, state 1) except the Sirenidae, indicating an independent loss of these glands in the Sirenidae (character 10, state 0).
In all salamanders, except for the Piethodontidae (Strickland, 1966; Williams et al, 1984), Rhyacotritonidae, and Sirenidae (Willett, 1965), a longitudinal duct (Bidder's duct or marginal longitudinal duct) connects the lumina of the multiple vasa efferentia and also serves to communicate the vasa efferentia leading immediately from the testes to the afferent epididymal ducts (Williams et al.
The Rhyacotritonidae and Sirenidae (Willett, 1965) have identical genital kidney duct morphologies that are different from all other salamanders but similar to that of caecilians (Wake, 1970).
The simple condition is found only in the Proteidae (Rosenquist and Baker, 1967) and Sirenidae (Willett, 1965) and can also be considered the larval condition, as this condition is found in larval salamanders (Rodgers and Risley, 1938).
However, recent phylogenetic analyses concluded that these complex structures might have evolved independently due to the recovery of a paraphyletic Salamandroidea with respect to the placement of the Sirenidae within the traditional Salamandroidea (Larson, 1991; Gao and Shubin, 2001; Larson et al.