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The Secret Life of Salamanders

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Because of their nocturnal habits and "secretive nature," says James W. Petranka, salamanders rank among the least familiar of vertebrates in North America. Petranka has made them a little more familiar, having compiled what may be the most comprehensive and definitive guide on these fragile creatures published in more than 50 years, Salamanders of the United States and Canada (Smithsonian, $60). Clockwise from right: the giant Pacific, black (female with eggs) and green salamanders.

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