A lizard at the bottom of the biological pool? Can’t be!

Yeah, it’s not a lizard. Despite the size, the long shape of the body, the four legs and a similar long stem, it is an amphibian. It is a newt, called southern orange-bellied newt. The scientific world has only known the species since 2019 because in that year herpetologists, that is, biologists specialized in amphibians and reptiles, described the new species with the scientific name Lissotriton maltzani.

The southern orange-bellied newt is a cryptic species, that is, it was discovered in the laboratory in genetic studies. Because animals of appearance as in the photo are known from various parts of the Iberian peninsula under the name Lissotriton boscai. But studies of genetic data have revealed that newts in southern Portugal are genetically different from the rest of the country. Looking at these animals, there are no visible differences, so scientists speak of a cryptic species, that is, only recognizable on the basis of genetic studies.

In biological pools, Lissotriton are observable in the spring. Depending on the area of ​​the country, the aquatic phase of their life will begin when the climatic conditions allow them to reach the water and the temperatures are not too low. After mating the females place the eggs on leaves of underwater plants, each egg in its own cradle, on a folded leaf of a plant. When the larvae, the small newts, are visible in the water, the adults have already returned to the terrestrial habitats.

Well, they are amphibians, which means they have part of life on land and part in water.