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Skin morphology in larval, paedomorphic and metamorphosed Alpine newts, Triturus alpestris apuanus

Article published in volume 11 fascicle 1, of 03/1993, pages 25 - 35



Histological data on the skin of larval, paedomorphic and metamorphosed specimens of the Alpine newts, Triturus alpestris apuanus, have been analized and compared with natural history information.The skin of early larvae is composed of a few cell layers and contains Leydig cells, but lacks exoepithelial dermal glands, which appear later during the premetamorphic stage. In metamorphosed newts the skin is typically multilayered and cornified, with abundant mucous and serous glands. The situation in paedomorphics, which are branchiate and live in water, is variable: in some cases (corresponding to immature giant larvae), the skin presents larval aspects (Leydig cell are present), while in others (usually sexually active and paedogenetic individuals) it is similar to that of metamorphosed newts. Thus metamorphosis in paedomorphic newts is not abandoned, but only delayed. The result is a mosaic of larval and metamorphosed characteristics, which can be related to the highly plastic ecology of these newts.