CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

What Self-Cloning Salamanders Say About Climate Change

An Evolutionary Outlier Could Inherit the Earth (or at Least Rural Maine)

Newly metamorphosed salamanders—both spotted and unisexual—getting ready to leave the vernal pool. Researchers wear gloves to prevent the spread of disease from pool to pool. Courtesy of Kristine Hoffmann.

Birds do it, bees do it, and so the song goes, even educated fleas do it. But unisexual salamanders don’t.

These all-female amphibians clone themselves to make eggs—all girls—and they’ve survived this way for five million years. A real-life lineage of Amazonian amphibians, they achieve the seemingly impossible, generation after generation. Whatever your deepest beliefs about what is natural, normal, or even conceivable with sex and reproduction, these seven-inch salamanders blow them out of the water.

What’s more, grasping exactly what they’re up to could help us understand how climate …

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