Bizarre Newts Live Their Whole Lives, and Reproduce, As Babies
Salamanders in the European Alps and elsewhere can put off developing into adults for years—or their entire lives—in certain circumstances.
Like Peter Pan, the alpine newt sometimes refuses to grow up.
In their juvenile form, these alpine newts slurp up plankton in the icy mountain pools they call home, as high as 8,000 feet above sea level in the European Alps. A distinctive frilly crown of gills, used to filter oxygen from the water, marks them as larvae, the newt equivalent of what tadpoles are to frogs.
Like other salamanders, the vast majority of alpine newts wriggle through the life stages like clockwork. They trade their frilly gill fronds for lungs, crawl on land, and graduate to a diet of insects before their first winter.
But every generation, a handful of alpine newts simply opt not to leave their watery cradle. Life is