Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 12, 2012

Purdue scientists helping protect giant salamander


The Associated Press

West Lafayette — Purdue University scientists are helping with an effort to save Indiana's shrinking populations of a giant amphibian called the hellbender.

Hellbenders are North America's largest salamander, growing to between 1 and 2 feet long with flat green or brown wrinkled bodies. They are long-lived, spending up to 30 years under flat rocks in rivers and streams across Appalachia and adjacent regions.

But surveys starting in 1998 show that the animal that's also known as a "devil dog" and "old lasagna sides" is on the decline in southern and east-central parts of Indiana where populations exist.

Purdue scientists are part of a national group trying to save the species. Last month they released eight juvenile hellbenders in southern Indiana that were fitted with radio transmitters to track their movements and survival.