Worm salamander Oedipina carablanca, from the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Centre.

Belongs within: Caudata.
Contains: Plethodon, Hydromantes, Spelerpinae, Batrachoseps, Bolitoglossa.

The Plethodontidae are a diverse lineage of salamanders found mostly in the Americas, with a smaller number of species in Europe and east Asia. Their most distinctive feature is the absence of lungs, with respiration instead occurring through the skin. Members of the subfamily Bolitoglossinae and most species of the Plethodontinae are direct developers, laying eggs on land that hatch into miniature adults without going through a larval phase. The larval phase is retained in Spelerpinae, Hemidactylium and most species of Desmognathus, and some species of Spelerpinae are neotenic.

Synapomorphies (from Frost et al. 2006): Stylus absent from opercular apparatus; periotic connective tissue present; periotic cistern small; basilaris complex absent; recessus amphibiorum with vertical orientation; palatal dentition replacement both laterally and posteriorly; lungs absent.


Frost, D. R., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. H. Bain, A. Haas, C. F. B. Haddad, R. O. de Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. C. Donnellan, C. J. Raxworthy, J. A. Campbell, B. L. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. A. Nussbaum, J. D. Lynch, D. M. Green & W. C. Wheeler. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 297: 1-370.

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