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Desmognathus is a genus of lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae) known as dusky salamanders.[1][2] They range from Texas to eastern United States and to southeastern Canada.[1]

D auriculatus USGS.jpg
Desmognathus auriculatus, southern dusky salamander
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Urodela
Family: Plethodontidae
Subfamily: Plethodontinae
Genus: Desmognathus
Baird, 1850

See table.



Desmognathus have a unique jaw-opening mechanism where the lower jaw is stationary and the skull swings open.[3] There are additional stalked condyles, an atlanto-mandibular ligament, along with other skeletal and musculature features that have evolved to accompany this type of jaw-opening mechanism.[3] Additionally, they are known to exhibit maternal care by brooding over their eggs.[3]

An unidentified Desmognathus species as seen in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN.


This genus includes the following 23 species:[1]

Binomial Name and Author Common Name
Desmognathus abditus
Anderson & Tilley, 2003
Cumberland dusky salamander
Desmognathus aeneus
Brown & Bishop, 1947
seepage salamander
Desmognathus apalachicolae
Means & Karlin, 1989
Apalachicola dusky salamander
Desmognathus aureatus
(Martof, 1956)
golden shovel-nosed salamander
Desmognathus auriculatus
(Holbrook, 1838)
southern dusky salamander
Desmognathus brimleyorum
Stejneger, 1895
Ouachita dusky salamander
Desmognathus carolinensis
Dunn, 1916
Carolina Mountain dusky salamander
Desmognathus conanti
Rossman, 1958
spotted dusky salamander
Desmognathus folkertsi
Camp, Tilley, Austin & Marshall, 2002
dwarf blackbelly salamander
Desmognathus fuscus
(Rafinesque, 1820)
northern dusky salamander
Desmognathus imitator
Dunn, 1927
imitator salamander
Desmognathus marmoratus
(Moore, 1899)
shovelnose salamander
Desmognathus melanius
(Martof, 1956)
black shovel-nosed salamander
Desmognathus monticola
Dunn, 1916
seal salamander
Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Cope, 1859
Allegheny Mountain dusky salamander
Desmognathus ocoee
Nicholls, 1949
Ocoee dusky salamander
Desmognathus orestes
Tilley & Mahoney, 1996
Blue Ridge dusky salamander
Desmognathus organi
Crespi & Browne, 2010
northern pygmy salamander
Desmognathus planiceps
Newman, 1955
flat-headed salamander
Desmognathus quadramaculatus
(Holbrook, 1840)
blackbelly salamander
Desmognathus santeetlah
Tilley, 1981
Santeetlah dusky salamander
Desmognathus welteri
Barbour, 1950
Black Mountain dusky salamander
Desmognathus wrighti
King, 1936
pygmy salamander

The AmphibiaWeb does not recognize Desmognathus aureatus and Desmognathus melanius, (originally described as subspecies of Desmognathus marmoratus[1]) and hence only lists 21 species.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Frost, Darrel R. (2016). "Desmognathus Baird, 1850". Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Plethodontidae". AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Vitt, Laurie J.; Caldwell, Janalee P. (2014). Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-12-386919-7.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Baird SF. 1850. Revision of the North American Tailed-Batrachia, with descriptions of new genera and species. J. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Series 2, 1: 281-294. (Desmognathus, new genus, p. 282).