This past summer, CREW‘s aquatic salamander lab welcomed baby waterdogs into the world. Female waterdogs ‘Glitzy’ and ‘Muffintop’ both layed fertile eggs. It has been exciting to witness and document the development of these very elusive animals. It took quite some time before we could see the first evidence of the embryos forming and once they did, it was mesmerizing to watch them develop into full grown waterdog babies. We were rooting for them all the way to hatching!
This photo shows an early time point in waterdog embryo development. You can see the bodies starting to form around the very large yolk sacs. As you notice in the photo, waterdog babies lack pigment early in development.
As the babies progressed in their development, they became bigger and started to show evidence of pigmentation. This video shows early movement in one of the waterdogs while it still resided within the sac. Waterdog babies need to learn to maneuver while still in their sacs in order to be able to hatch themselves out. And hatch themselves out, they did!
After hatching, the babies started to get their ‘groove on’ and learn how to move about. This video was taken right after they successfully hatched and you can see how challenging it was for them to stay upright. Having such a little body resting on a large yolk sac looks funny, but is totally normal for a waterdog baby. The yolk sac is very important, as it provides the energy source for the developing babies. They continue to obtain their nutrients from the yolk sac until they start hunting and eating on their own.