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One of the orders of the class Amphibia, also known as the Caudata. The members of this order are the tailed amphibians, or salamanders, and are distinguished superficially from the frogs and toads (order Anura) by the possession of a tail, and from the caecilians (order Apoda) by the possession of limbs. Salamanders resemble lizards in that members of both groups normally have a relatively elongate body, four limbs, and a tail. The similarity is however, only superficial. The most obvious external difference, the moist glandular skin of the amphibian and dry scaly skin of the reptile, is underlain by the numerous characters that distinguish reptiles from amphibians. See Anura

The vast majority of salamanders are well under a foot (0.3 m) in length. The largest is the giant salamander of Japan and China, which may attain a length of 5 ft (1.5 m). A close relative, the hellbender, which lives in streams in the eastern United States, grows to over 2 ft (0.6 m) in length.

Four well-developed limbs are typically present in salamanders, but the legs of the mud eel (Amphiuma) of the southeastern United States are very tiny appendages and of no use in locomotion. The sirens (Siren and Pseudobranchus), also aquatic salamanders of the same region, have undergone even further degeneration of the limbs and retain only tiny forelimbs. Salamanders with normal limbs usually have four toes on the front feet and five on the rear, though a few have only four on all feet. A feature of the Urodela not shared with the Anura is the ability to regenerate limbs.

The moist and highly vascularized skin of a salamander serves as an organ of respiration, and in some forms shares with the buccal region virtually the whole burden. In one entire family of salamanders, the Plethodontidae, lungs are not present. Even in those forms with lungs and gills, dermal respiration plays a very important part. The tympanum is absent in salamanders and the middle ear is degenerate. Hence these animals are deaf to airborne sounds. Undoubtedly correlated with this is the reduction of voice; salamanders are mute or produce only slight squeaking or, rarely, barking sounds when annoyed. However, salamanders can detect sounds carried through ground or water.

Salamanders live in a variety of aquatic or moist habitats. Many forms are wholly aquatic, living in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Others live on land most of the year but must return to water to breed. The most advanced species live out their lives in moist places on land or, in the case of some tropical species, in trees, and never go in the water.

Producing the young alive rather than by laying eggs is very rare among salamanders. The eggs of salamanders may be deposited in water or in moist places on land. Presumably, aquatic breeding is the more primitive. Fertilization is external in most of the Cryptobranchoidea, internal by means of spermatophores in the remaining suborders.

About 300 species of salamanders are known to be living today, and these are distributed among about 54 genera. The greatest concentration of families and genera of salamanders is found in the eastern United States, and these animals are one of the few major groups of vertebrate animals that is distinctly nontropical. No salamander occurs south of the Equator in the Old World, and only 18 species of the evolutionarily advanced family Plethodontidae are found as far south as South America in the New World. See Amphibia


(vertebrate zoology)
The tailed amphibians or salamanders, an order of the class Amphibia distinguished superficially from frogs and toads by the possession of a tail, and from caecilians by the possession of limbs.
References in periodicals archive ?
Reversal of muscle differentiation during urodele limb regeneration.
Many invertebrates and some lower vertebrates, such as urodeles and fish, have higher regenerative ability in a variety of tissues, such as the limbs, tail, heart, and spinal cord; these are tissues that never re-form in mammals when they are lost.
This data base represents the largest-known series (452 individuals) from a single urodele population.
Table 1 Selected anural and Pacific urodele mogulid characteristics Species Tail?
Immunoprecipitation experiments, now in progress, will coprecipitate muscle cell determinants with p58 for microinjection into non-muscle lineage blastomeres of urodele ascidian embryos and injection into anural ascidian eggs.
The HD larvae were also significantly more variable in size (see Results); Wilbur and Collins (1973) and Semlitsch and Caldwell (1982) also observed changes in size variability with increasing density in both anurans and urodeles.
Prolactin has a physiological role in certain biological features among higher vertebrates such as stimulation of the pegion crop, stimulation of mammary gland and post-ovulatory corpus luteum in some mammals and induction of water-drive and land-water integumentary changes in the urodeles (MEITES; NICOLL, 1966; VELLANO et al.
Recherches morphologiques et experimentales sur le determinisme des caracteres sexuels males chez les urodeles.
Functional and developmental constraints and opportunities in the evolution of feeding systems in urodeles.
Energy and interspecific body size patterns of amphibian faunas in Europe and North America: anurans follow Bergmann's rule, urodeles its converse.