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Newt

Smooth newt. larger version

Newts are small, usually bright-colored semiaquatic salamanders of North America, Europe and North Asia. Newts have the ability to regenerate limbs, eyes and spinal cords. The cells at the site of the injury have the ability to de-differentiate, reproduce rapidly, and differentiate again to create a new limb or organ.

One theory is that the de-differentiated cells are related to tumor cells since chemicals which produce tumors in other animals will produce additional limbs in newts.

The three common British species are the Great Crested Newt[?] (Triton cristatus), Smooth Newt (Lophinus punctatus) and the Palmate Newt (Triturus helvetica).

In America, Diemictylus viridescens[?] is one of the most abundant species.

Research on newts is rare because they take two years to reach sexual maturity.

The history of the word newt is interesting. The oldest form of the name is eft, which is still used for some varieties, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary it changed for unknown reasons first to euft and then to ewt. For some time then it was an ewt, but then the N moved over and it became a newt. See A, an for other examples.



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