Who are we?  Salamander biologists from Smithsonian’s National Zoo and research partners from state agencies, universities and NGOS. 

Our mission?  To investigate the disappearance of animals that are so remarkable, so bizarre that they defy the laws of normal biology.  Yes, we’re talking about salamanders.  Explore this website, read our science blog, and learn more about these insidiously cute amphibians.



  1. Dave Hayman says:

    Great to see this up and running Kim – congratulations

  2. D.D. says:

    What a great Salamander web page! The haunted lab at RDC was super spooky and informative! Happy Haloween salamander enthusiasts!

  3. Chris says:

    I caught one of these at 7 or 8 years of age in a little stream that led into Lake XXXX in XXXXX, Va. I have never seen another one. I am sure they no longer exist in this area.

  4. Chris says:

    I could even take you to the exact location where I found it.

    • Kimberly Terrell says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris. We’re about to start a major project to map the hellbender’s range in Virginia, so we’re looking for all the info we can get. I’ll send you an email to get the specifics. I censored the location you provided because unfortunately we have had some issues with poachers.

      We’ll be using a new technique that allows us to look for hellbender DNA in stream water. So if there’s even a single one left in your stream, we should be able to detect it.

  5. bette fredrickson says:

    As a retired Biology teacher of 35 years I absolutely loved leaning about this salamander. Is it a species? also I can see that the front limbs are formed but the rear ones look modified for swimming. Are they?

    • Kimberly Terrell says:

      Thanks, Bette. I’m glad to meet another salamander enthusiast. The species on this page is the hellbender salamander. It’s completely aquatic, but the rear legs are also fully formed (they look very similar to the front legs). The just look different because the hellbender was (very briefly) taken out of water for the picture and the hind legs ended up sort of stuck to its side. Thanks for your interest!

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