Jefferson Salamander [Ambystoma jeffersonianum] 2
These are three different Ambystoma embryos developing inside their eggs.First is a Jefferson,from left to right,[Ambystoma jeffersonianum].The second is Spotted [Ambystoma maculatum].The third is Marbled [Ambystoma opacum].Spotted and Jefferson lay their eggs in late winter and spring in water in eggs masses,whereas Marbled lay their eggs in fall on land in nests.Notice the algae inside the eggs of the Jefferson and Spotted.The following is from Valerie Ross "Spotted Salamanders embryos,a recent study found,have algae living inside their cells.While scientists have long known that the two species are symbiotic,each helping the other to survive,new findings show that the arrangement is more intimate than previously thought.It is the first such organism-within cell partnership-known as endosymbiosis-ever observed in vertebrates."! have also now read that the they are finding the algae living inside the adult Spotted salamanders cells as well!I think this is all very exciting,two organisms growing and living together as one,and depending on each other to survive.I have observed for many years and at different locations algae also inside the eggs of Jefferson's,as seen in the first picture.I have not read or heard of this symbiotic relationship happening in Jefferson Salamanders,but from my own observation believe it to be occurring in Jefferson's as well.
Three Ambystoma larvae species.Top,maculatum [Spotted].Middle,jeffersonianum [Jefferson].Bottom,opacum [Marbled].Pa.6-4-20
After many years of trying to get all three Ambystoma species of larvae [the three in our area,Pa.] in my photographic tank,I was finally rewarded last week.It was very exciting!I only know of two places that have all three,and it finally all came together.Top is maculatum [Spotted],about 4 weeks old,notice the line or strip from the eye to the nose,only seen at this earlier age.Middle opacum [Marbled],hatched last fall and is approximately 32 weeks old.Notice the grey,pigmented chin,only marbled larvae have this.Also notice metamorphosis to land is starting to be seen as the larva is losing it's aquatic tail and starting to take on the shape it will have for the rest of its life.Bottom is jeffersonianum [Jefferson],at 8 weeks old.At this age Jefferson are by far the heaviest of all larvae and again at this age they are thicker and more rounded and also notice the long fore toes a sure sign of Jefferson [In time the rear toes will be just as long].They also have a more aqua color appearance than either the Marbled or Spotted.They also have a more distinct line that separates the white of its belly and the coloring on their sides,found above their row of faint spots.Marbled always have the brighter row of spots followed by the Spotted and then by the Jefferson,which can be very faint.The reason the Jefferson and the Marbled are so close to the same size even though the age difference is so great is partly due to the fact that the Marbled larva body is changing due to metamorphosis and will be leaving the water to a life on land within the next few weeks,as stated before in the tail and also the body gets thinner as do all larvae at that time [metamorphosis].Marbled and Spotted larvae can be very hard to tell apart,but Marbled are almost always darker and as stated earlier have that grey,pigmented chin,whereas Spotteds do not.Anoth good way to tell is the time of year.Marbled having hatched the previous fall are always larger.Keep in mind that Spotted larvae on rare instances will over winter and metamorphosis the following year.Again look for the grey chin of Marbled,Spotted larvae will have a clean,white chin.Pa.6-4-20
A comparison picture of two beautiful leucistic Ambystoma larvae that I was fortunate to find in 2018 and 2019 respectively.Jefferson [Ambystoma jeffersonianum] top picture and Marbled [Ambystoma opacum] bottom picture."Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation of the skin,hair,scales or cuticle,but not the eyes."Please notice the beautiful "gold dust" coloration in the gills of the Marbled larva.Also please notice that right hind toes of the Jefferson larva are in the process of regenerating after being lost-most likely another from another larva