Eurycea waterlooensis, the Austin blind salamander, is restricted in its distribution to the subterranean cavities of Edwards Aquifer, Travis County, Texas. It has been found in three of the four outlets of Barton Springs, a popular swimming hole in Austin, but it is thought that individuals occurring there were flushed out of the aquifer. E. waterlooensis is the blind subterranean counterpart of E. sosorum, a surface dwelling species with functional image-forming eyes that inhabits Barton Springs.
Eurycea waterlooensis was described by Hillis et al. (2001), and the specimen featured here is a paratype. It is most closely related to E. robusta, the Blanco blind salamander, and E. rathbuni, the Texas blind salamander. It differs from other species of Eurycea in the following combination of external features: perennibranchiate; external eyes absent; 12 costal grooves; limbs proportionately short; and tail fins weakly developed.
About the Species
This specimen, a paratype, was collected from Sunken Gardens Spring (an outlet of Barton Springs), Zilker Park, Austin, Travis County, Texas, on 22 January 1999 by Robert Hansen and Dee Ann Chamberlain. It was made available to the University of Texas High-resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning by Dr. David Hillis of the Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin. Funding for scanning and image processing was provided by a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative grant to Dr. Timothy Rowe of the Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin.
About this Specimen
The head of the specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert and Richard Ketcham on 23 February 2001 along the coronal axis for a total of 219 519x519 pixel slices. Each slice is 0.032 mm thick, with an interslice spacing of 0.032 mm and a field of reconstruction of 7.603 mm.
Chippindale, P. T., A. H. Price, J. J. Wiens, and D. M. Hillis. 2000. Phylogenetic relationships and systematic revision of central Texas hemidactyliine plethodontid salamanders. Herpetological Monographs 14:1-80.
Hillis, D. M., D. A. Chamberlain, T. P. Wilcox, and P. T. Chippindale. 2001. A new species of subterranean blind salamander (Plethodontidae: Hemidactyliini: Eurycea: Typhlomolge) from Austin, Texas, and a systematic revision of central Texas paedomorphic salamanders. Herpetologica 57:266-280.
Mitchell, R. W., and J. R. Reddell. 1965. Eurycea tridentifera, a new species of troglobitic salamander from Texas and a reclassification of Typhlomolge rathbuni. Texas Journal of Science 23:343-362.
Potter, F. E., and S. S. Sweet. 1981. Generic boundaries in Texas cave salamanders, and a redescription of Typhlomolge robusta (Amphibia: Plethodontidae). Copeia 1981:64-75.
Eurycea waterlooensis page on AmphibiaWeb (University of California, Berkeley)