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Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris)
Scientific classification

This article is about the animal called newt. For Newt as a surname, see Newt (name).

Newts are small, usually bright-coloured semiaquatic salamanders of North America, Europe and North Asia.

The three common British species are the Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus), Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris) and the Palmate Newt (Triturus helveticus).

In North America, the Red-spotted Newt (Diemictylus viridescens) is one of the most abundant species.

In Japan, the Sword-tail Newt (Cynops ensicauda) is becoming rare and is threatened by pollution and deforestation.

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 tumour cells since chemicals which produce tumours in other animals will produce additional limbs in newts.

Many newts produce toxins in their skin secretions as a defense mechanism against predators. The Taricha newts of western North America are particularly toxic; the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) of the Pacific Northwest produces enough tetrodotoxin to kill an adult human foolish enough to swallow a newt. Note that in order to produce harm, the toxins have to enter the body by being ingested or entering a break in the skin; it is safe to handle newts provided one thoroughly washes ones hands before eating.

Newts can take several years to reach sexual maturity. It is known that their main breeding season is between February and June.

The history of the word newt is interesting. The oldest form of the name is eft, which is still used for newly metamorphosed juveniles, 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 otherТритон de:Molch (Biologie) it:Tritone (zoologia) ja:イモリ simple:newt

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