Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
This species of Hydromantes has a flattened head and body, as the name--platy (flat)-cephalus (referring to the head)--suggests; blunt snout; short, blunt tail and a pedicelled, mushroom-shaped tongue (Stebbins 1951). There are 4 blunt-tipped, partly webbed toes on the front feet, and 5 on the hind feet. Adults reach about 120 mm total length, and usually have 12-13 costal grooves. There is some argument about its physical appearance in relation to other Plethodon secies: Stebbins (1951) reports relatively small eyes, but Petranka (1998) calls the eyes large relative to the head and body. Color: Dark chocolate to blackish above, with mottled pale gray to pinkish patches composed of whitish flecks; in some individuals, mottling completely obscures dark ground color; the dorsal coloration tends to match the color and pattern of granite rock common in this salamander?s habitat, and varies among populations as substrate color varies. Ventral color is sooty to blackish often broken by irregular clusters of silvery chromophores, especially beneath limbs, on gular region, and on sides of belly. Juveniles: Completely dark brown to black with scattered golden stippling, or clusters of pale yellow chromophores dorsally. Few silvery chromophores on gular region and chest. Males are usually longer than females and have wider heads (Adams 1942). They possess maxillary teeth which project below the margin of the upper lip, and an oval-shaped mental gland in the gular region (Stebbins, 1951, 1985).
Populations from the east slope of the Sierra Nevada extend down to the floor of the Owens Valley and have been given the common name of Owens Valley Web-toed Salamander, but they have not been formally described (Macey and Papenfuss 1991). They may be assignable to H. platycephalus.
View a video of H. platycephalus feeding.
See another account at californiaherps.com.