Damn you, Florida. For all the Sunshine State’s political debauchery and crooked business dealings, its natural world is admittedly cool – like the new salamander species that was found recently in Okaloosa County.
It’s one of the largest creatures to be discovered in the U.S. in more than a century, with spots similar to a leopard’s and a body like an eel. Scientists dubbed the new species a “reticulated siren” (or, to be precise, Siren reticulata), according to a paper published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE.
David Steen, a wildlife biologist at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Sean Graham, a vertebrate zoologist at Sul Ross State University of Texas, were the researchers behind the discovery and co-authored the paper. The scientists told National Geographic that they first stumbled across the creature in 2009, though it took five years to gather similar samples.
“It’s basically this mythical beast,” says Steen.
Per their research, the unusual creature can grow up to two feet in length, and, like other members of the Sirenidae family, is completely aquatic, preferring to live in swamps or mud – which is why, Steen notes to the Revelator, the species may have slipped through the cracks for so long.
Read the researchers’ paper for yourself.