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(European salamanders), a family of tailed amphibians lacking gills in the adult state. Lungs are present, and the eyelids are well developed. The vertebrae are opisthocoelous. Fertilization is internal, with the male depositing spermatophores. True salamanders are distributed in Europe, Asia, and North America. Of the 15 genera, the best known are Salamandra, Triturus, and Mertensiella.
The Salamandra have a flat and clumsy body, with a short tail lacking swim fringes. The parotid glands are well developed, and there is no spinal ridge. The coloration is black, sometimes with large yellow or orange-yellow spots. There are three species of Salamandra. S. Salamandra, whose body length reaches 70 cm, is found in the Western Ukraine. It lives in damp, shady places—in rodent burrows, in rock crevices, and in the forest litter. The female deposits as many as 72 larvae into the water; the larvae have branched gills. S. salamandra feeds on small invertebrates. The secretions of its skin glands are poisonous and may cause the death of small animals.
The genus Mertensiella has two species. M. caucasica is found in the USSR in southwestern Georgia. It is smaller than Salamandra but has a longer tail. The tail is marked by auto-tomy and the power of regeneration.
The name “salamander” is also applied to other amphibians, such as the giant salamander (Megalobatrachus japonicus), Plethodontidae, and Salamandrina teraigitata.
I. S. DAREVSKII