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Salamandra atra aurorae is very similar in body shape to all other subspecies of S. atra, also in all major characters that often distinguish different species of Salamandra: outline of the head, position of the vomerine teeth, proportions of body parts and limbs, arrangement glandular bulges and pores on the skin, and shape and length of the tail (Bonato et al. 2007).

However, the body surface is not entirely and uniformly black as in most other populations of S. atra. Conversely, the dorsal side of S. atra aurorae is broadly covered with yellow-brown blotches, which are broader and often coalescent on the head and the trunk, they are usually present also on the arms, the thighs and the tail, whereas they are rare on the flanks and the ventral sides (Bonato et al. 2007). Blotches are invariantly present in all individuals, but highly variable in extent (covering from slightly more than half of the dorsal surface to almost the entire dorsal surface) and in dominant hue (from pale yellow to marbled brown) (Bonato & Fracasso 1998). The colour pattern is highly variable between individuals, without any obvious difference neither between sexes nor between sites. It is established at birth and it usually changes only slightly with growth (Trevisan et al. 1982; Bonato et al. 2007). However, relatively rapid and extended changes from yellow to brown have been occasionally observed in captive individuals (Steinfartz 1998).

Newly born individuals are about 50 mm long and less than 1 g, whereas adults may reach 134 mm in males and 139 mm in females, and 14 g in pregnant females (Bonato & Fracasso 1998).

The sexual dimorphism is very slight, but it has not been investigated adequately. Like in other subspecies of S. atra, the cloacal region is usually swollen in the adult males.


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© Lucio Bonato

Supplier: Lucio Bonato

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