Minute salamanders (Plethodontidae: Thorius) were once very common in montane habitats bordering the eastern and southern margins of the Mexican Plateau, where they have experienced an adaptive radiation in miniature. Molecular data have proven to be essential for sorting specimens into species, which are then discerned to differ in morphology, ecology, elevational distribution, etc. Species detection is an ongoing activity, made difficult by the increasing rarity of these tiny animals. A new paper (Parra-Olea et al. 2016) revises the taxonomy of the southern and easternmost members of the genus in Oaxaca, Mexico, redescribing two species while describing and naming three others. The new species all are considered to be critically endangered, and the entire genus appears to be on the brink of extinction from as yet undetermined causes.

Parra-Olea G, Rovito SM, García-París M, Maisano JA, Wake DB, Hanken J. (2016) Biology of tiny animals: three new species of minute salamanders (Plethodontidae: Thorius) from Oaxaca, Mexico. PeerJ 4:e2694 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2694

Photo © Mario Garcia-Paris

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