Salamanders in general are pretty awesome, but this one, for me anyways, tops them all. The Mount Lyell Salamander (Hydromantes platychephalus) is an amphibian endemic to California. They have a sticky tongue, that somewhat resembles a mushroom. This shoots out to catch insects and other invertebrates. Being lungless salamanders (family Plethodontidae) they breathe through their skin. That special ability requires a moist environment, and the ability to move around on the ground in high humidity. My favorite adaptation of this species is their defensive mechanisms. Besides producing sticky and toxic skin secretions, or flattening their body and raising their head, they have another special tactic.. I like to call it the rock & roll lifestyle, purely because they curl their heads under their back legs, tucking both the legs and tail in, and roll downhill. That’s right, these unique animals work like a wheel and cruise out of any scary situations. But even walking normally, they’re a sight to see, since they use their tail as a bit of leverage on slopes, working like a fifth leg.
Photo credit: sdeban