Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday search challenge (11/14/12): What kind of animal can do that?

There is a kind of animal that is remarkably adaptable.  To my amazement, I just found out that this animal--a vertebrate--comes in varieties that stretch the idea of what it means to be an animal with a backbone.  

There's one species of this kind of animal that somehow manages to live without lungs.  It doesn't have gills (as an adult) or some other pseudo-lung thing... just this amazing ability to absorb oxygen directly from the air without all of that unseemly huffing and puffing.  

Another species of this animal is also photosynthetic during a part of its life cycle.  Really?  A photosynthetic animal with a backbone?  (And I mean photosynthetic in an interesting way: that is, the animal actually gets part of its energy by photosynthesis, not that it has moss growing in its hair as a sloth might.)  

This week's question isn't terribly hard, but it's amazing: 

What Order of animal has both lungless and photosynthetic species within it?  

Note that I'm asking for the Order of the animal.  I mean this in the biological sense, following the usual taxonomy of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Genus, Species.  

And while it may not seem like it, the photo at the top is actually a clue to the answer.  

Think you know what it is?  Search it out and prove you know the order! 

Search on! 


  1. Didn't really understand why the photo is a clue, but searching for photosynthtics animal quickly suggests it's a salamander, confirming it by "no lungs" fact.

  2. I'm going with Order: Caudata

    Searched [photosynthetic animal] and got

    took me to

    then searched [Ambystoma maculatum] to get this including the scientific classification.

    I'm almost doubting my answer because it all went too quickly. 3 minutes.

  3. Answer: Caudata

    First search was for 'photosynthetic vertebrate' which led to several articles about the spotted salamander, which while not a new species, was recently discovered to produce energy by photosynthesis.

    Then to make sure I was on the right track I searched for 'lungless salamander' which gave several hits the first of which was a wikipedia article. And Wikipedia told me that the order for salamanders is caudata.

    As to the connection of the photo to the answer, I have no idea.

  4. The answer is CAUDATA. Solution time about 2 minutes.

    1. [lungless vertebrate] gave results for various salamanders and one frog. Lungless salamanders also known as Plethodontidae belong to the order Caudata, as listed here

    2. [photosynthetic vertebrate] gave a salamander but no frog. The species is Ambystoma maculatum, as listed here

    3. By way of confirmation, [Ambystoma maculatum] lists confirming that the Order is Caudata.

    No idea why the photo of sunrise over a lake would be a clue, other than a vague indicator of amphibians? I plugged it into Google Images but nothing came up.

  5. Searched for vertebrate photosynthetic and got Ambystoma maculatum and then searched for Ambystoma maculatum intext:order and got Chordata for the order total time 2 minutes. The intext operator I got from watching your videos which are excellent

  6. The Order is Caudata.
    First I searched for "animal photosynthesis": the first animal in the results was a green bug, the second a sea slug, but I knew that the search was for an animal with a backbone, therefore took the third result instead: a salamander.
    I read an article from mother nature network and found out the scientific name of this animal: Ambystoma maculatum.
    Then I searched for it in wikipedia and found its Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.
    I thought that the lungless animal would probably also be a salamander and searched for "lungless salamander": the first result was the wikipedia article about a family of salamanders called Plethodontidae, different from the first ones, but belonging to the same order: Caudata.
    It took me about three minutes but I don't understand how the picture can be a clue to the answer.

    1. Perhaps "clue" is too strong a word. Maybe "hint" is more like it.

  7. I started with a clue to the answer, I remembered reading about salamanders being able to exchange gas through their skin.
    Checked on google for "lungless vertebrae" checked right, and double-checked with "salamander photosynthesis".
    Finally, the Wikipaedia page for Salamander clssifies them in the order Caudata.
    Took me 3 minutes.

  8. So the order of vertebrate is the Caudata.
    The two animals you list are the spotted salamander(Photosynthesis) and the Cuchumatanas Bromeliad Salamander(lungless).

    I found the answer by completing two separate searches for lungless vertebrates and after finding it was a salamander, photosynthesis salamander. Then searched taxonomy of salamanders. 5 minutes total work.

  9. This one took about ten minutes. When I searched on vertebrate photosynthetic and then vertebrate lungless, salamander came up in both searches with results from Nature and other reliable scientific sites. The order is Caudata.

  10. Search "photosynthetic vertebrate" leads to several articles on a spotted salamander which is from the order Caudata.

  11. Fun!

    I did a search for [lungless vertebra*]. The first result was for the lungless salamander on Did some reading and it seemed this was the right creature for the lungless part. The order was given as Caudata of the Plethodontidae family.

    I then did a search for [caudata photosynthesis] to see if that checked out. The first hit was info on the photosythetic Axolotl of the Caudata order from the website, so it seems this all checks out.

    The order is Caudata.

    Overall, this took me about 10 minutes.

  12. I used this term to find the answer: vertebrate breathe without lung

    I found to order have some species who breathe without lungs frog(order Anura ) and salamander (order Caudata) for another section of question I used this term photosynthesis vertebrate.
    I found out a salamander can photosynthesize :"Eggs of A. maculatum can have a symbiotic relationship with a green alga, Oophila amblystomatis.[7] Jelly coating prevents the spotted salamander eggs from drying out, however it inhibits oxygen diffusion (required for embryo development). The Oophila alga photosynthesizes and produces oxygen in the jelly. The developing salamander thus metabolizes the oxygen, producing carbon dioxide (which then the alga consumes). It has recently been discovered that photosynthetic algae are present within the somatic and possibly the germ cells of the salamander."wikipedia

    but i also found something similar in frogs : In certain species, such as the Northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora) and the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), symbiotic unicellular green algae are present in the gelatinous material. It is thought that these may benefit the developing larvae by providing them with extra oxygen through photosynthesis. wikipedia

    therefore maybe we can say both of them in this stage of their life do photosynthesis !!!

  13. The order is Caudata.

    I started with "photosynthetic vertebrate" and found several good hits discussing the Spotted Salamander. Next, I tried "lungless salamander" to see if I could strike gold. Bam! The Plethodontidae. One of those hits was for the wkpd page for Plethodontidae, which informed me that the order was Caudata. I double-checked to see that the Spotted Salamander was of the same order. 'Twas.

    That was a quick, but fascinating and fun, one!


  14. Hi is it caudata? I've found refs to lungless salamanders and an axolotl with photosynthetic eggs. But not sure about photo except they do live in water or on land or both!

  15. Good Day, Dr. Russell and fellow searchers!

    Searched[lungless backbone animal]


    [Lungless Salamanders]

    [photosynthetic salamander]

    Found: Salamander is world's first photosynthetic vertebrate.

    [salamander order]

    What Order of animal has both lungless and photosynthetic species within it?
    A= Caudata

  16. I searched for "lungless and photosynthetic species" and found that salamanders qualified as both and they are of order Caudata. Coincidentally the first site I looked at was It took me a couple of minutes.

  17. Caudata. Here are my steps (not counting my Google Images search, which turned up nothing on the photo):

    [lungless salamander] (I typed in lungless and Google Instant suggested multiple phrases - I picked this one.)

    [Plethodontinae photosynthesis]

    [photosynthesis vertebrate] (First did vertebrate and started photsynthesis but Google Instant suggested reverse order.)

    [Ambystoma maculatum]

    This took me 5-10 minutes.

    Jeff Deutsch

  18. Order is Caudata
    I searched "photosynthetic vertebrate" and followed first link to find "Ambystoma maculatum" - a salamander who is photosynthetic. Searched by the name and got order info from wikipedia page.
    Took about 5 minutes.

  19. Salamanders (Order Caudata) have both photosynthetic and lungless members.

  20. Searched for vertebrate photosynthetic and came up with Salamander. Searched for 'do salamanders have lungs' and came to the Wikipedia article that said some species do not.

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Amphibia
    Subclass: Lissamphibia
    Order: Caudata

  21. You're getting too easy. The top Google result for "Lungless Vertebrate" is Wikipedia's entry for Salamanders, order "Caudata". No mention of photosynthesis there, but a second googling of "photosynthesis salamander" confirms it.

    1. This week isn't that hard.. but remember that we have a VERY broad audience (there are middle-school kids reading this blog!), so I try to mix the questions up a bit, both in terms of content and level of difficulty.

      Not to worry: Next week's question will be more ... challenging!

  22. Ah... not amphibians... order would be Caudata.

    1. Good catch. Be sure to answer the right question!

  23. Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Amphibia
    Order: Caudata
    Suborder: Salamandroidea

    Lungless (multiple species):
    Family: Plethodontidae

    Photosynthetic Embryos (Spotted Salamander):
    Family: Ambystomatidae
    Genus: Ambystoma
    Species: A. maculatum

  24. order Caudata

    Google search for: vertebrate absorbing oxygen through skin no lungs

    Determined that some salamanders do not have lungs. Confirmed with search for: salamander photosynthesis.

    Wikipedia entry for salamander indicates an order name of Caudata

  25. Answer: Caudata

    the photo is of lilypads and typing in "photosynthetic frog" will lead to this site:

    Googling "lungless" will get you a salamander in wikipedia here :

    to confirm the Order. This took me a few minutes and is my first submission. Great reading your blog!

  26. CAUDATA, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family. ANIMALIA, CHORDATA, AMPHIBIA, CAUDATA, AMBYSTOMATIDAE. Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum, commonly known as the spotted salamander.

  27. Order Caudata. I cheated since I knew about the lungless salamanders already, so it was just a question of confirming that there are also photosynthetic ones.

  28. The answer is Caudata;
    Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family. ANIMALIA, CHORDATA, AMPHIBIA, CAUDATA, AMBYSTOMATIDAE. Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
    commonly known as the Spotted Salamander!

  29. Order: Caudata
    Search "lungless vertebrate" then "photosynthetic vertebrate"
    Kind of knew it was a salamander to begin with.
    No idea about the clue offered by the picture.

  30. On the image: Was taken at Salamander Bay?

  31. Kingdom:Animalia

    Searched for "Photosynthetic animal" and found the answer on the first page... confirm about the lungless and gill-less varieties through the wiki page.
    though I still cant get how the photo is a hint...

  32. Google's auto complete gave me salamander when Lungless was entered. Combining salamander with Photosynthetic confirmed. Wikipedia says salamander belongs to the Caudata order.

  33. I got the answer wrong, but thought I would explain my process.

    I came up with Order: Gymnophiona,

    I started by searching for [lungless and photosynthetic] and I came across an article called 'Evolutionary relationships of the lungless caecilian Atretochoana eiselti (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Typhlonectidae)'

    Next I looked up [Caecilian] and visited a wikipedia article that said that the order name was Gymnophiona.

    My next move was to look up [Gymnophiona photosynthesis] and I then clicked on the link for the Wikipedia article on Amphibians. The article said some eggs receive energy from photosynthesis, but only specifically mentioned it being true for frogs and salamanders.

    At that point I should have checked if any species of frog or salamander are also lungless, but I was so sure that I already had the correct answer that I spent the next few minutes trying to find an article that confirm that this was also true for Gymnophonia - whoops

    Eventually I got frustrated of trying to confirm my results and peaked at this page, only to discover everyone else had a different answer from me.

    1. Tim -- Not to worry... that's why we're doing these challenges, in order to learn from each other! You had the right approach, but got sidetracked by the Caecilians (which are a really interesting group of animals).

      I hope you had a good time, though, learning all this!

  34. Order: Caudata

    1. animal photosynthetic
    2. animal backbone photosynthetic
    3. animal vertebrates photosynthetic
    4. salamander lungs

  35. I searched lungless photosynthetic order and noticed amphibian and salamander come up in the results. So I refined it and took a guess with salamander. Found multiple sites with lungless salamanders, double checked with photosynthetic salamander:

    Followed this by checking order - search: kingdom, phylum, class, order, species: salamander: several websites came up and determined the order is caudata.

    Search took a couple of minutes.