Temporal range: Pleistocene–present
Two-toed Amphiuma
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Subclass: Lissamphibia
Order: Caudata
Suborder: Salamandroidea
Family: Amphiumidae
Gray, 1825 [1]
Genus: Amphiuma
Garden, 1821

Amphiuma means
Amphiuma pholeter
Amphiuma tridactylum

Amphiuma is a genus of aquatic salamanders, the only extant genus within the family Amphiumidae (play /æmfɨˈjuːmɨd/). They are also known to fishermen as "conger eels" or "congo snakes", which are zoologically incorrect designations. Amphiumas have one of the largest amounts of DNA in the living world, around 25 times more than a human.[2]



Amphiumas have an elongated body, generally grey-black in color. They do have legs, but they are very small; while amphiumas can be up to 116 cm (46 in) long, their legs measure only up to about 2 cm (0.79 in). Therefore, they can resemble eels. They also lack eyelids or a tongue.[3]

Female amphiumas lay their eggs in wet mud, and then remain coiled around them for about five months, until they hatch. The larvae have external gills, but after about four months these external gills disappear and the lungs begin to work. One pair of gill slits, with fully functioning internal gills, is retained and never disappears, so the metamorphosis remains incomplete.[3]


Amphiumas inhabit the southeastern part of the United States. They share much of the same distribution with the sirens, although they are not closely related.

In the past amphiumas have been further distributed. Fossils from the Pleistocene epoch show that they once were distributed in Europe as well.


During the day amphiumas hide in vegetation, and at night they become active and go hunting. Their prey include frogs, snakes, fish, crustaceans, insects and even other amphiumas. Hunting and eating habits have been observed to be very similar to that of the Axolotl, including the sucking in of food into their stomachs with vacuum force. If provoked they can become aggressive. They can be found in most wetlands in the coastal plain of the southeastern U.S., even ones which periodically dry, as they are able to aestivate in the moist mud below drained marshland and other ephemeral wetlands. Amphiuma are rarely encountered on land, but it is possible.


There are three amphiuma species, distinguished by the number of toes:


  1. ^ J. Alan Holman (2006). Fossil Salamanders of North America. Life of the past. Indiana University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-253-34732-9. 
  2. ^ "Junk DNA and the Onion Test" 1 June 2008.
  3. ^ a b Lanza, B., Vanni, S., & Nistri A. (1998). Cogger, H.G. & Zweifel, R.G.. ed. Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 72. ISBN 0-12-178560-2. 

External links

Data related to Amphiuma at Wikispecies

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Amphiuma — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda ? Anfiumas Amphiuma means Clasificación científica …   Wikipedia Español

  • Amphiuma — Amphiuma …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Amphiuma — Am phi*u ma ([a^]m f[i^]*[=u] m[.a]), n. (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of amphibians, inhabiting the Southern United States, having a serpentlike form, but with four minute limbs and two persistent gill openings; the Congo snake. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Amphiūma — (Zool.), so v.w. Aalmolch …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Amphiūma — Amphiūma, s. Aalmolch …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Amphiuma — Amphiuma …   Wikipédia en Français

  • amphiuma — /am fee yooh meuh/, n. an aquatic, eellike salamander of the genus Amphiuma, of the southeastern U.S., having two pairs of very small feet. [ < NL Amphiuma name of the genus, prob. irreg. formation. See AMPHI , PNEUMA] * * * ▪ salamander also… …   Universalium

  • amphiuma — amphiume [ɑ̃fjym] ou amphiuma [ɑ̃fjyma] n. m. ÉTYM. 1838; lat. zool. amphiuma, d orig. inconnue. ❖ ♦ Zool. Batracien urodèle qui a l apparence d une grosse anguille munie de quatre pattes minuscules, qui vit dans les marais d Amérique et peut… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • amphiuma — [ˌamfɪ ju:mə] noun a fully aquatic eel like amphibian of the south eastern US. [Genus Amphiuma.] Origin mod. L., prob. from amphi + Gk pneuma breath …   English new terms dictionary

  • amphiuma — noun aquatic eel shaped salamander having two pairs of very small feet; of still muddy waters in the southern United States • Syn: ↑congo snake, ↑congo eel, ↑blind eel • Hypernyms: ↑salamander • Member Holonyms: ↑genus Amphiuma …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”