Salamanders act as a signal for the general health of  the environment. (Photo credit: Dr. Shai Levy, University of Haifa)
Salamanders act as a signal for the general health of the environment. (Photo credit: Dr. Shai Levy, University of Haifa)

A two-headed salamander tadpole has Israeli scientists scratching their heads about the deformity. Researchers at the University of Haifa found the mutant tadpole in the Community Ecology Lab.

The salamander of Israel is an endangered species, mainly due to factors which have disturbed its habitat such as soil and water pollution and the destruction of its natural habitat.

Researchers at the lab, Dr. Ori Segev and Antonina Plavikov, say they’ve observed an incidence of deformity, especially among the limbs of salamanders, in the past but such cases of two heads were rarer. They attribute the mutation to one of three theories: pollution of water sources, changes in radiation and the influence of a small population.

In the Community Ecology Lab, headed by Prof. Leon Blaustein, research into understanding the biological mechanisms of this unique life form has been underway for many years. The goal is to help the nature and parks authorities maintain the existing population and revive populations in danger.

According to researchers at the lab the salamanders act as a signal for the general health of the environment because they are so sensitive to pollution and environmental changes and so they are the first to be harmed.