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A newt is a salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. The terrestrial

14–17 extant and six fossil genera, see text

A newt is a salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. The terrestrial juvenile phase is called an eft. Unlike other members of the family Salamandridae, newts are semiaquatic, alternating between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts, however. More than 100 known species of newts are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (eft), and adult. Adult newts have lizard-like bodies and return to the water every year to breed, otherwise living in humid, cover-rich land habitats.

Newts are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation and pollution. Several species are endangered, and at least one species, the Yunnan lake newt, has gone extinct recently.

Etymology

Two grey newts, taken from the front, under water, presumably in an aquarium
Pleurodeles, including the Iberian ribbed newt, is the type genus of subfamily Pleurodelinae.

The Old English name of the animal was efte, efeta (of unknown origin), resulting in Middle English eft; this word was transformed irregularly into euft, evete, or ewt(e). The initial "n" was added from the indefinite article "an" by provection (juncture loss) ("an eft" → "a n'eft" → ...) by the early 15th century.[2] The form "newt" appears to ha

A newt is a salamander in the subfamily Pleurodelinae. The terrestrial juvenile phase is called an eft. Unlike other members of the family Salamandridae, newts are semiaquatic, alternating between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Not all aquatic salamanders are considered newts, however. More than 100 known species of newts are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. Newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages: aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile (eft), and adult. Adult newts have lizard-like bodies and return to the water every year to breed, otherwise living in humid, cover-rich land habitats.

Newts are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation and pollution. Several species are endangered, and at least one species, the Yunnan lake newt, has gone extinct recently.

The Old English name of the animal was efte, efeta (of unknown origin), resulting in Middle English eft; this word was transformed irregularly into euft, evete, or ewt(e). The initial "n" was added from the indefinite article "an" by provection (juncture loss) ("an eft" → "a n'eft" → ...) by the early 15th century.[2] The form "newt" appears to have arisen as a dialectal variant of eft in Staffordshire, but entered Standard English by the Early Modern period (used by Shakespeare in Macbeth iv.1).[3] The regular form eft, now only used for newly metamorphosed specimens, survived alongside newt, especially in composition, the larva being called "water-eft" and the mature form "land-eft" well into the 18th century, but the simplex "eft" as equivalent to "water-eft" has been in use since at least the 17th century.[4]

Dialectal English and Scots also has the word ask (also awsk, esk in Scots[5]) used for both newts and wall lizards, from Old English āþexe, from Proto-Germanic *agiþahsijǭ, literally "lizard-badger" or "distaff-like lizard" (compare German Eidechse and Echse, both "lizard;" *agi- is ultimately cognate with Greek ὄφις "snake," from Proto-Indo-European *h₁ogʷʰis[6]). Latin had the name stellio for a type of spotted newt, now used for species of the genus Stellagama. Ancient Greek had the name κορδύλος, presumably for the water newt (immature newt, eft).[7] German has Molch, from Middle High German mol, wikt:olm, like the English term of unknown etymology.

Newts are also known as Tritones (viz., named for the mythological Triton) in historical literature, and "triton" remains in use as common name in some Romance languages, in Greek, in Romanian, Russian, and Bulgarian. The systematic name Tritones was introduced alongside Pleurodelinae by Tschudi in 1838, based on the type genus named Triton by Laurenti in 1768. Laurenti's Triton was renamed to Triturus ("Triton-tail") by Rafinesque in 1815.[8] Tschudi's Pleurodelinae is based on the type genus Pleurodeles (ribbed newt) named by Michahelles in 1830 (the name meaning "having prominent ribs," formed from πλευρά "ribs" and δῆλος "conspicuous").

Distribution and habitats

A brown newt under water, on gravelask (also awsk, esk in Scots[5]) used for both newts and wall lizards, from Old English āþexe, from Proto-Germanic *agiþahsijǭ, literally "lizard-badger" or "distaff-like lizard" (compare German Eidechse and Echse, both "lizard;" *agi- is ultimately cognate with Greek ὄφις "snake," from Proto-Indo-European *h₁ogʷʰis[6]). Latin had the name stellio for a type of spotted newt, now used for species of the genus Stellagama. Ancient Greek had the name κορδύλος, presumably for the water newt (immature newt, eft).[7] German has Molch, from Middle High German mol, wikt:olm, like the English term of unknown etymology.

Newts are also known as Tritones (viz., named for the mythological Triton) in historical literature, and "triton" remains in use as common name in some Romance languages, in Greek, in Romanian, Russian, and Bulgarian. The systematic name Tritones was introduced alongside Pleurodelinae by Tschudi in 1838, based on the type genus named Triton by Laurenti in 1768. Laurenti's Triton was renamed to Triturus ("Triton-tail") by Rafinesque in 1815.[8] Tschudi's Pleurodelinae is based on the type genus Pleurodeles (ribbed newt) named by Michahelles in 1830 (the name meaning "having prominent ribs," formed from πλευρά "ribs" and δῆλος "conspicuous").

Newts are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. The Pacific newts (Taricha) and the Eastern newts (Notophthalmus) with together seven species are the only representatives in North America, while most diversity is found in the Old World: In Europe and the Middle East, the group's likely origin, eight genera with roughly 30 species are found, with the ribbed newts (Pleurodeles) extending to northernmost Africa. Eastern Asia, from Eastern India over Indochina to Japan, is home to five genera with more than 40 species.[citation needed]

Newts are semiaquatic, spending part of the year in the water for reproduction and the rest of the year on land. While most species prefer stagnant water bodies such as ponds, ditches or flooded meadows for reproduction, some species such as the Danube crested newt can also occur in slow-flowing rivers. The European brook newts (Calotriton) and European mountain newts (Euproctus) have even adapted to life in cold, oxygen-rich mountain streams. During their terrestrial phase, newts live in humid habitats with abundant cover such as logs, rocks, or earth holes.[citation needed]