Spot on Science: Salamander Love Story

AT THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY WERE SURPRISED TO FIND THAT SOME MOLE SALAMANDERS TREK UP TO NINE MILES TO FIND A MATE! THEY NOTICED THAT THE GENES OF SALAMANDERS FROM DIFFERENT AREAS WERE INTERMINGLING AND SET OUT TO SEE JUST HOW FAR THE LITTLE GUYS WERE GOING TO MATE WITH EACH OTHER. TO DO THIS THEY TESTED TWO TYPES OF THE SALAMANDERS, AN ALL-FEMALE GROUP THAT REPRODUCED ASEXUALLY AND A CO-ED BUNCH THAT REPRODUCE TRADITIONALLY.

THE SCIENTISTS SET UP A LITTLE GYM FOR THE SALAMANDERS WHERE THEY COULD TEST THEIR ENDURANCE ON A TREADMILL. WHEW LOOK AT THEM GO! WORK IT WORK IT!
IT TURNS OUT THAT THE LADIES WHO DON’T NEED THE MALE SALAMANDERS NEARBY TO REPRODUCE DIDN’T REALLY MAKE IT FAR WITHOUT GETTING EXHAUSTED. THE CO-ED GROUP THOUGH WAS WILLING TO HIKE AN AVERAGE OF SIX MILES. AND THEY WERE REARING TO GO FOR MORE THAN TWO HOURS IN A ROW BEFORE TUCKERING OUT. THAT’S LIKE A PERSON JOGGING 75 MILES BEFORE STOPPING!

SALAMANDERS AREN’T EASY FOR SCIENTISTS TO TRACK SINCE USUALLY THEY ARE HIDING AND SINCE THEIR SKIN IS TOO DELICATE TO ATTACH A TRACKER TO. SO THIS INFORMATION WILL BE REALLY IMPORTANT FOR THEM TO SEE WHICH SPECIES OF SALAMANDERS SURVIVE AND REPRODUCE. THE SCIENTISTS ARE ALSO HOPING TO USE THE INFORMATION THEY FOUND FOR CONSERVATION PURPOSES. CONSERVATION IS ANY ACTION THAT HELPS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT OR WILDLIFE. IN THIS CASE THEY CAN FIGHT FOR THE SALAMANDERS AND THE AREAS THAT THEY LIVE IN, WHICH THEY NOW KNOW IS A BIGGER THAN THEY HAD THOUGHT.

WELL LUCKY FOR ME I CAN JUST MAIL MY VALENTINE, BECAUSE ALL THAT JOGGING LOOKS EXHAUSTING!


Instructional Links


Website Article: Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Climate Change and Salamanders | Includes video about salamanders.

Encyclopedia Article: World Book Kids, Salamander | Click on “More Information” tab for game about animal habitats.

Website Article: Easy Science for Kids, Conservation

Website Article: Footprints Conservation Society, Kidz Zone, How I Can Help | 5 simple ideas.

Online Games & Activities: World Wildlife Fund, Go Wild | Explore the wildlife of the continents & oceans.

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