Vote for the USGS-ARMI Extreme Athlete Contender for Amphibian Week!

Authors: Erin Muths; Evan HC Grant; Kelly L Smalling; Michael J Adams
May 06, 2024

Rough skinned newt, rough skinned newt, strength and poise? No dispute! Your gymnastic 'unkenreflex' makes competitors weep. Certainly a medal sweep!

Cast your vote by clicking “Like” the photo of our extreme athelete!: You can also get there by scanning this QR code:


The Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) excels in gymnastics, particularly the floor routine. At the USGS-ARMI amphibian olympic trials, the committee noted the extraordinary flare, cunning, and athletic grace exhibited by this Pacific Northwest Newt as it performed demanding, beautiful, and artistic shapes while moving through its floor routine.

This newt is known to throw down superior performances even in the presence of hostile judges (aka predators). This particular routine, referred to by the amphibian gymnastic community as "unkenreflex", has a high difficulty rating, requires millennia of evolution to perfect and has only been attempted by this species. This particular athlete, in addition to unparalleled performances of twists and turns, exudes a toxin from its granular skin requiring a thorough cleaning of the olympic mats between competitors.

The USGS-ARMI Contender is 6 to 9 cm (2.4 to 3.5 in) in snout-to-vent length, and 11 to 18 cm (4.3 to 7.1 in) in overall length, and weighs in at ~57 g (~2 oz). The olympic uniform for ARMI and the Rough-skinned Newt is brownish black but with a stunning, sunrise-colored, orange underside that showcases the intricate and muscular moves of their floor routine.

After first place and near perfect scores at the world competition in amphibian gymnastics with its “unkenreflex” floor routine, and strong showings in the recent competition in Europe, the USGS-ARMI amphibian olympic committee expects a podium position for the Rough-skinned newt at this spring’s competition.

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