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Peter View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 May 2008 at 4:22am

Whilst swabbing for Chytridiomicosis recently, we encountered a slight oddity, a male smooth newt that displayed certain features normally attributed to a male palmate newt.

This particular individual was at first glance a normal male smooth newt. On closer examination however, the animal displayed a crest that was the height of a smooth newt`s, but which was straight edged as in the case of a male palmate newt with very little or no trace of undulations.  The animal also had more than the average amount of fringes on its toes which gave the appearance of webbing. Furthermore the animal had a definate filament at the end of it`s tail. We popped the animal into a glass jar and prior to release, my volunteer snapped a few pics with his mobile. The filament is clearly visible at the end of the tail. Anybody that has experience of our indigenous newt species would at first glance identify the animal as a male smooth newt. Of the 30 plus animals which were encountered at this site, this was the only animal displaying this combination of features. There may well of course be more, as 30 animals is a mere fraction of the colony size.

Both palmate and smooth newts were present in good numbers at the site.

Is there anyone here that is familiar with T.vulgaris morphology or whom has had any similar experience of finding oddities such as this? If so, then I would be very interested to know about it.




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Jeroen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeroen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2008 at 8:02am

Dear Peter,

My guess would be that you found a hybrid. I am aware of only two records (one from the UK and one from France) of a helveticus x vulgaris hybrid, so they seem to be very rare. There is, however, one other possibility. You might be dealing with an introduced specimen of one of the southern subspecies of the smooth newt. Both meridionalis (Italy and adjacent areas) and graecus (Balkans) display a straight-edged crest and a tail filament. Difference between them: graecus has (or at least much clearer) additional dorsolateral crests (or rather ridges) like helveticus (can't really tell from the pictures whether this is the case or not). I have some pictures of both subspecies (besides the nominal form) here => http://nemys.ugent.be/species.asp?spec=44665&group=16&am p;act=4&p=0

Most likely you found a very rare hybrid, but to be really sure, some molecular analyses would be desirable, I guess. 

g's,

J.

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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2008 at 8:20am

Thanks for the very interesting reply.

I`ll try and obtain that sample if there is a next time!

I will be returning to the pond so it`s not beyond the realms of possability.

In the case of recorded hybrids between the two species, do we know if such animals are fertile?

 

EDIT:   The pond owner`s also took a few snaps, and were armed with a much better camera.  I shall attempt to track down the images



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Jeroen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeroen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2008 at 1:01pm

Originally posted by Peter Peter wrote:

In the case of recorded hybrids between the two species, do we know if such animals are fertile?

By definition, hybrids are infertile. This holds also true for (the few recorded) hybrids of these species. Species that are less distant from an evolutionary perspective do, however, produce partially fertile offspring = reproduction possible, but with clearly reduced fertility. This, of course, being a simplification of matters such as speciation, introgression, hybridogenesis (water frogs), ... .

g's,

J.

 

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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2008 at 2:33pm
Originally posted by Jeroen Jeroen wrote:

 Species that are less distant from an evolutionary perspective do, however, produce partially fertile offspring = reproduction possible, but with clearly reduced fertility. This, of course, being a simplification of matters such as speciation, introgression, hybridogenesis (water frogs), ... .

g's,

J.

 

 

As in the case of Felis silvestris and Felis silvestris catus then?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Huddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2008 at 3:07pm

Hi Peter ,

               I am the forum  member that Dave mentions in that last post .I too would agree that you too have found a smooth/ palmate hybrid. I sent pics of the animal that I found off to Richard Griffiths at DICE and he too agreed it was a hybrid specimen . Richard is one of the co authors of the "New Naturalist Reptiles and Amphibians" and within the book he refers to a hybrid that he found at a pond in mid Wales ,photo included (black and white) , also John Buckley of the HCT sent me pics last month of a hybrid that he found in his garden pond .

I would not be suprised if there are a lot more of these hybids out there , perhaps folks just Don't idenify them correctly and further to this ,female smooth /palmate hybrids would be extreamly difficult if not impossible to I.D  

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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 May 2008 at 2:03pm

Thank you for the response David.  I would agree that it is far more likely that the animal is a hybrid.  The pond is surrounded by a considerable amount of farmland so I would have thought that the likelihood of European introductions in the vacinity would be extremely slight.

Thank you for posting Huddy. No I certainly wouldn`t rate my chances at identifying a female smooth/palmate hybrid either!

 

Do you still have the images of the animal that you speak of available?

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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2008 at 8:34am

The owner of the pond has forwarded me a few more snaps of the likely hybrid.

The tail filament (a helveticus characteristic) is plain to see in the above image.  Below the crest can be seen to be the height we would expect from vulgaris but the straight edge associated with helveticus.

 

 

Above is a view of the speckled throat and below an overall view of the animal.

 



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Jeroen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jeroen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2008 at 11:49am

Originally posted by Peter Peter wrote:

The pond is surrounded by a considerable amount of farmland so I would have thought that the likelihood of European introductions in the vacinity would be extremely slight.

Hmmm, you'd be surprised to see at what strange spots the weirdest alien invasive species have popped up. Nevertheless, I still agree a hybrid, while not certain, is much more likely to be the case, and it is interesting to learn that they are not as rare as I had been reading so far.

g's,

J.



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Peter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2008 at 2:33pm
Caleb, I tried to find the paper that you mentioned.  I can only find references to it.  Is it available in full anywhere that you know of?
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