Iberian Ribbed Newt

Iberian Ribbed Newt


image_width = 240px
image_caption = In an aquarium
status = NT | status_system = IUCN3.1
trend = down
status_ref = [IUCN2006|assessors=Beja "et al"|year=2006|id=59463|title=Pleurodeles waltl|downloaded=11 May 2006 Includes justification and range map.]
name = Iberian Ribbed Newt
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Amphibia
ordo = Urodela
familia = Salamandridae
genus = "Pleurodeles"
species = "P. waltl"
binomial = "Pleurodeles waltl"
binomial_authority = Michahelles, 1830

range_map_caption = Distribution in the Iberian peninsula (Morocco not shown)

The Iberian Ribbed Newt or Spanish Ribbed Newt ("Pleurodeles waltl") is a newt endemic to the central and southern Iberian Peninsula and Morocco. It is known for its sharp ribs which can puncture through its sides, and as such is also called the Sharp-ribbed Newt.

The Iberian Ribbed Newt has tubercles running down each side. Through these, its sharp ribs can puncture. The ribs act as a defense mechanism, causing little harm to the newt. Ejection of the ribs rarely occurs in captive animals.

In the wild this amphibian grows up to 30 cm, but rarely more than 20 cm in captivity. Its color is dark grey on the back and lighter grey on its ventral side with rust-colored small spots where its ribs protrude. These newts have a flat spade-shaped head and a long tail which is about half their body length.

Males are slenderer and usually smaller than females. The larvae have bushy external gills and usually paler color patterns than the adults.

The Iberian ribbed newts are far more aquatic-dwelling than other European tailed amphibians. Even though they are quite able to walk on land, most rarely leave the water, living usually in ponds, cisterns and ancient village wells that were common in Portugal and Spain in the past. They prefer cool, quiet and deep waters, where they feed on insects, worms and tadpoles.

ex determination

Sex determination is regulated by sex chromosomes, but can be overridden by temperature. Females have both sex chromosomes (Z and W), while males have two copies of the Z chromosome (ZZ). However, when ZW larvae are reared at 32 °C (90 °F) during a particular stages of development (stage 42 to stage 54), they differentiate into functional neomales.

Hormones play an important role during the sex determination process, and the newts can be manipulated to change sex by adding hormones or hormone-inhibitors to the water they are reared in.

Aromatase, an estrogen-synthesizing enzyme which acts as a steroid hormone, plays a key role in sex determination in many non-mammalian vertebrates including the Iberian Ribbed Newt. [Sandra Kuntz, et al. Cerebral and gonadal aromatase expressions are differently affected during sex differentiation of "Pleurodeles waltl", Journal of Molecular Endocrinology (2004) 33, 717-727  [http://jme.endocrinology-journals.org/cgi/content/full/33/3/717] ] It is found in higher levels in the gonad–mesonephros complexes in ZW larvae than in their ZZ counterparts, although not in heat-treated ZW larvae. The increase occurs near the final stages of which their sex can be determined by temperature (stage 52).


The IUCN listed the Iberian Ribbed Newt as Near Threatened in its 2006 Red List. It received this listing because its wild populations appear to be in significant decline due to widespread habitat loss and the effects of invasive species, thus making the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable. Previously, in 2004, the species had been listed as Least Concern, the lowest ranking. This species is generally threatened through loss of aquatic habitats through drainage, agrochemical pollution, the impacts of livestock (in North African dayas), eutrophication, domestic and industrial contamination, golf courses, and infrastructure development. It has largely disappeared from coastal areas in Iberia and Morocco close to concentrations of tourism and highly populated areas (such as Madrid's outskirts). Introduced fish and crayfish ("Procambarus clarkii") are known to prey on the eggs and larvae of this species, and are implicated in its decline. Mortality on roads has been reported to be a serious threat to some populations.

pace experiments

"Pleurodeles waltl" has been studied in space on at least six missions. The first Iberian Ribbed Newts in space may have been in 1985 on board Bion 7 [Mitashov, V.; et al. Lens and limb regeneration in newt during and after 13-day long spaceflight [http://www.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?collection=TRD&recid=N9025252AH] ] . The ten newts shared their journey with two Rhesus Macaques and ten rats, in an otherwise crewless Soviet Cosmos satellite. In 1992, Bion 10 [Grinfeld, S.; et al. Tissue regeneration in space (spinal cord, muscle and bone) in the amphibian "Pleurodeles waltl". Life Sciences Research in Space, ESA SP-366. European Space Agency, 1994., p.181 [http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994lsrs.conf..181G] ] [Experience Triton on BION-10: Study of peptidase-1 expression in embarked "Pleurodeles" females and detection of genetic abnormalities in their progeny [http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994lsrs.conf..171D] ] also carried the newts on board, as did Bion 11 [Grigoryan, E. N, et al. Urodelean amphibians in studies on microgravity: effects upon organ and tissue regeneration. Advances in Space Research, Volume 30, Issue 4, p. 757-764. [http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002AdSpR..30..757G] ] in 1996.

"P. waltl" research was continued later in 1996 by French-led experiments on the Mir space station (Mir Cassiopée expedition [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1440-169x.2001.00575.x] ), with follow-up studies in 1998 (Mir Pégase expedition) and 1999 (Mir Perseus expedition). Foton-M2 [ Domaratskaya "et al", Studies on hemopoietic tissue of ribbed newt, "Pleurodeles waltl", after the flight on board Russian satellite "Foton-M2" in 2005 [http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/COSPAR2006/00654/COSPAR2006-A-00654.pdf] ] also carried the Iberian Ribbed Newt in 2005.

The newts were chosen because they are a good model organism for the study of microgravity [Gualandris-Parisot L, et al. Adv Space Res. 2001;28(4):569-78. "Pleurodeles waltl", amphibian, Urodele, is a suitable biological model for embryological and physiological space experiments on a vertebrate.] . They are a good model organism because of the female's ability to retain live sperm in her cloaca for up to 5 months, allowing her to be inseminated on Earth, and later (in space) have fertilisation induced through hormonal stimulation. Another advantage to this species is that development is slow, so all the key stages of ontogenesis can be observed: from the oocyte to swimming tailbud embryos or larvae.

Studies looked at the newts' ability to regenerate (which was faster in space overall, and up to two times in early stages [Grigoryan EN, Mitashov VI, Anton HJ. Urodelean amphibians in studies on microgravity: effects upon organ and tissue regeneration. Adv Space Res. 2002;30(4):757-64. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12528722&dopt=Abstract] ] ), as well as the stages of development and reproduction in space [Dournon C & Houillon C 1985 Thermosensibilité de la différenciation sexuelle chez l’Amphibien Urodè le, "Pleurodeles waltlii" Michah. Conditions pour obtenir l’inversion du phénotype sexuel de toutes les femelles génétiques sous l’action de la température d’élevage. "Reproduction Nutrition Développement" 25 671–688.] .

On the ground, studies of hypergravity (up to 3"g") on "P. waltl" fertilisation have also been conducted [Aimar C, et al. Microgravity and hypergravity effects on fertilization of the salamander Pleurodeles waltl (urodele amphibian). Biol Reprod. 2000 Aug;63(2):551-8. [http://www.biolreprod.org/cgi/content/full/63/2/551] ] , as well as on the fertility of the space-born newts once they arrived back on Earth [Dournon C, Durand D, Tankosic C, Membre H, Gualandris-Parisot L, Bautz A. Effects of microgravity on the larval development, metamorphosis and reproduction of the urodele amphibian "Pleurodeles waltl" Dev Growth Differ. 2001 Jun;43(3):315-26. [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1440-169x.2001.00575.x] ] (they were fertile, and without problems).

Other amphibian species to travel in space include the newt species "Lissotriton vulgaris" and "Cynops pyrrhogaster", and frog species: African clawed frog, Japanese tree frog, and several frogs in the Rana genus: "Rana pipiens", "Rana calestiana" and "Rana temporaria".

ee also

*List of Mir Expeditions
*Animals in space

External links

* [http://www.caudata.org/cc/species/Pleurodeles/P_waltl.shtml Caudata Culture: Pleurodeles waltl]
* [http://www.livingunderworld.org/caudata/database/salamandridae/pleurodeles/waltl/ Livingworld.org: Pleurodeles waltl]


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