from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lanza's Alpine Salamander ( Salamandra lanzai )

As Salamander representatives from are amphibians - order of salamanders called, reveal the no fin edges. As with the newts that have fin borders , this is not a systematic group.

In modern naming, the representatives of the family Salamandridae, subfamily Salamandrinae of the European species are usually referred to as “salamanders”, while the species of the subfamily Pleurotelinae are called “newts”. The Salamandininae (compare spectacled salamanders), which some authors have recently split off from the Salamandrinae, are still called salamanders. However, there is no such system for non-European families.


The salamanders is representative of the salamanders ( Caudata or Urodela ), elongated amphibian with tail. Your skin is bare. The group includes species that live permanently in the water, such as the Japanese giant salamander, or species that live permanently on land, such as the Alpine salamander .

Origin of name

The name salamander was introduced into modern zoological nomenclature by Carl von Linné , who called a species he described "Lacerta salamandra" (today's name Salamandra salamandra , the fire salamander ). Linnaeus took over a name that was handed down in antiquity and the early Middle Ages. This semi-mythological salamander probably actually goes back to the fire salamander. However, numerous notable properties have been ascribed to him; Its (alleged) extreme toxicity and its ability to extinguish fires were especially famous. In numerous later authors, it even became an ability to live in a burning fire, or to have one's actual living space here.

In the Historia naturalis of the Roman writer Pliny it is noted:

“For example, the salamander, an animal with the shape of a lizard and a star-studded body, never comes out into the open except after heavy rainfall, it disappears immediately when the weather improves. This animal is so cold that if it touches it, it will extinguish fire, as ice does. It also spits a milky substance out of its mouth, and whichever part of the human body comes in contact with it, all hair immediately falls out and it takes on a leprous appearance. "

- Gaius Pliny Secundus Maior

The ability to put out fires, however, was also doubted in antiquity (even by Pliny himself at a later point).

The medieval authors knew the salamander mainly from its mention by the doctor of the church Augustine , who mentions it in the 21st chapter of his main work De civitate Dei . Accordingly, the salamander lives in fire without pain, "because its nature is adapted to this element". Other pre-medieval sources such as Isidore of Seville in his Etymologiae and the so-called Physiologus confirmed this information. The name was handed down in this form into modern times.

According to the actual usage of the language, the animals that are now called salamanders were also referred to as "newts" in the early modern period.


Salamander in the Vienna Dioscurides manuscript (Constantinople, before 512) fol. 423 recto

According to mythological ideas, the salamander should also be able to live in fire as one of the four elemental beings.

The alchemists retained the symbol of the salamander as the elemental of fire. This assignment goes back to the above-mentioned passage in Pliny the Elder's natural history .

According to the myth, the salamander can live in the fire because of its internal coldness. Its shape varies in the depiction from a worm to a snake to lizard-like beings, possible relationships range to dragons and the mythical symbol of the Ouroboros . The salamander was seen as a symbol of destruction and rebirth, and thus also for the indestructible substance and the philosopher's stone . Salamanders were often depicted as emblems , for example in the work de atalanta fugiens by the alchemist Michael Maier or in the Chambord castle on the Loire, built by Francis I.


Salamanders have a considerable ability to regenerate. If these animals lose a part of their body, it usually grows back in a more or less shortened form. In the case of the axolotl, however , the regenerates are usually formed in their full former length. This ability to regenerate ensures functional replacement of the limbs and is also given in adult (albeit neotene ) animals.

Short system

From the family real salamanders and newts (Salamandridae) the following autochthonous species occur in German-speaking Central Europe:

For further systematics see tail amphibians .

See also

Actual salamanders

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alain Dubois, Jean Raffaelli: A new ergotaxonomy of the family Salamandridae Goldfuss. 1820 (Amphibia, Urodela), Alytes 26 (1-4), 2009, pp. 1-85.
  2. Gaius Plinius Secundus Maior: Historia naturalis. 10th book, chap. 86, p. 66.
  3. Jan Ullrich Büttner: Asbestos in the premodern: From myth to science. Waxmann Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-8309-6402-1 .
  4. Gunter Dimt: Frogs, toads, salamanders. An ethnological foray into the world of amphibians. In: Stapfia. Volume 47, pp. 249-260, PDF on ZOBODAT
  5. Stanton J. Linden: Darke Hierogliphicks: Alchemy in English Literature from Chaucer to the Restoration. University Press of Kentucky, 1996, pp. 188 ff, ISBN 0813133408 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Salamander  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations