A creepy, crawly denizen of North America’s cold mountain waters is the relic hellbender. Reaching upwards of 70 cm and 2 kilos, it’s only rivaled by river monsters known as the Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders, which are dwarfed by their even larger still prehistoric cousins.
Curiously, it breathes mostly through folds of light-sensitive skin which varies from blotchy brown to a reddish color. Swimming with undulating movements and numerous wrinkles its small, beady, and lidless eyes make for poor vision . It hunts predominately by sense of smell; preying on snakes, fish, crawdads, and amphibians (including other hellbenders). Most often it can be found hiding beneath rocks with its pancake-shaped skull and flattened body emerging only till dusk. Like newts, these primitive salamanders can surprisingly regenerate loss limbs and some body parts. As amphibians, they go through metamorphosis -1.5 years into life their external gills disappear until then, they much resemble the ordinary common mudpuppy.