Proteidae Bonaparte, 1831

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Proteidae
9 species

Proteina Gray, 1825, Ann. Philos., London, Ser. 2, 10: 215. Type genus: Proteus Laurenti, 1768. Unavailable due to Proteus being considered to be a junior synonym of Hypochthon by Gray, according to Dubois and Ohler, 2015, Bionomina, 9: 41–49. 

Phanerobranchoidea Fitzinger, 1826, Neue Class. Rept.: 43. Type genus: Phanerobranchus Leuckart, 1821. Explicit rank of family. Does not replace Proteina Bonaparte, 1831, due to Art. 40.2.

Pododysmolgae Ritgen, 1828, Nova Acta Phys. Med. Acad. Caesar Leopold Carol., Halle, 14: 277. Unavailable family-group name for Hypochthon Merrem, 1820, by reason of not being formed on a generic name.

Phanerobranchi — Wagler, 1828, Isis von Oken, 21: 859. Explicit family to contain Proteus. If new an unavailable name for reason of not being based on a generic name, although can be construed to be a subsequent usage of Phanerobranchoidea Fitzinger, 1836.

Proteina Bonaparte, 1831, Giorn. Arcad. Sci. Lett. Arti, Roma, 49: 77. Type genus: Proteus. See comment.  

ProteideaeTschudi, 1838, Classif. Batr.: 26, 97.

ProteidaeHogg, 1838, Ann. Nat. Hist., London, 1: 152.

Hypochthonina Bonaparte, 1840, Nuovi Ann. Sci. Nat., Bologna, 4: 101 (named on page 11 of offprint). Type genus: Hypochthon Merrem, 1820. Also named by Bonaparte, 1840, Mem. Accad. Sci. Torino, Ser. 2, 2: 395.

ProtéidesDuméril and Bibron, 1841, Erp. Gen., 6: table opposite page 53. Explicit non-Latinized family-group name.

Necturi Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 35. Type genus: Necturus Rafinesque, 1819.

Necturina Bonaparte, 1845, Specchio Gen. Sist. Erpetol. Anfibiol. Ittiolog.: 6. Type genus: Necturus Rafinesque, 1819.

HypochthonidaeBonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p.

NecturidaeBonaparte, 1850, Conspect. Syst. Herpetol. Amph.: 1 p.; Stejneger and Barbour, 1917, Check List N. Am. Amph. Rept.: 5.

ProteidaJan, 1857, Cenni Mus. Civ. Milano: 55; Knauer, 1878, Naturgesch. Lurche: 95.

Menobranchida Knauer, 1878, Naturgesch. Lurche: 96. Type genus: Menobranchus Harlan, 1825. Explicit family.

Hylaeobatrachidae Lydekker, 1889, in Nicholson and Lydekker (eds.), Man. Palaeontol.: 1040. Type genus: Hylaeobatrachus Dollo, 1884. Synonymy by Brame and Gorham, 1972, Checklist Living & Fossil Salamand. World (Unpubl. MS): 34.

HylaeobatrachoideaKuhn, 1965, Die Amphib.: 39, attributed to Huene, 1931 (not located).

ProteoideaDubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 20. Superfamily.

ProteinaeBlackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 46.

NecturinaeBlackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 47.

PhanerobranchinaeDubois and Raffaëlli, 2012, Alytes, 28: 77–161. Older name for Necturinae of other authors.

ProteoidaeDubois and Raffaëlli, 2012, Alytes, 28: 77–161. Epifamily.

Phanerobatrachinae Dubois and Ohler, 2015, Bionomina, 9: 45. Oldest name for the subfamily referred to as Necturinae by Blackburn and Wake, 2011. 

English Names

Olms (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 34).

Waterdogs (Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 34).

Proteans (Jordan, 1878, Man. Vert. North. U.S., Ed. 2: 197).

Mud Puppies (Jordan, 1878, Man. Vert. North. U.S., Ed. 2: 197).


Eastern USA and adjacent Canada; Adriatic seaboard, as far north as Istrian region and as far south as Montenegro; isolated population in northeastern Italy.


Hecht, 1957, Proc. Zool. Soc. Calcutta: 282–292; Hecht and Edwards, 1976, Am. Nat., 110: 653–667; and Hecht and Edwards, 1977, in Hecht et al. (eds.), Major Patterns Vert. Evol.: 3–51, argued for an independent origin of Proteus and Necturus. Seto, Pomerat, and Kezer, 1964, Am. Nat., 98: 71–78, noted the very similar karyotypes of Proteus and Necturus and suggested that this was due to close relationship. Larsen and Guthrie, 1974, Copeia, 1974: 635–643, and Estes, 1981, Handb. Palaeoherpetol., 2: 26, discussed the evidence and tentatively considered Proteidae a monophyletic taxon. Trontelj and Gorički, 2003, Nat. Croat., Zagreb, 12: 113–120, supported monophyly of the Proteidae on the basis of 12S rDNA sequence evidence. Gao and Shubin, 2001, Nature, 410: 574–577, provided an analysis of molecular data and morphology (including relevant fossils) that suggested that Proteidae is the sister taxon of Sirenidae. Frost, Grant, Faivovich, Bain, Haas, Haddad, de Sá, Channing, Wilkinson, Donnellan, Raxworthy, Campbell, Blotto, Moler, Drewes, Nussbaum, Lynch, Green, and Wheeler, 2006, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., 297: 172, came to the conclusion that Sirenidae is the sister taxon of Proteidae. Wiens, Bonett, and Chippindale, 2005, Syst. Biol., 54: 115, and Roelants, Gower, Wilkinson, Loader, Biju, Guillaume, Moriau, and Bossuyt, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 887–892, provided evidence for the monophyly of Proteidae and placed it far from Sirenidae. Zhang and Wake, 2009, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 53: 492–508, reported on molecular phylogenetics of salamanders based on mtDNA and provided an estimate of time since origin of the salamander families. Pyron and Wiens, 2011, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol., 61: 543–583, confirmed that Proteus is the sister taxon of Necturus and suggested that Proteidae is the sister taxon of a group composed of Rhyacotritonidae, Amphiumidae, and Plethodontidae (the taxon Plethosalamandroidei of Frost et al., 2006). Zheng, Peng, Kuro-o, and Zeng, 2011, Mol. Biol. Evol., 28: 2521–2535, reported on the estimated time of origin of this taxon. Blackburn and Wake, 2011, In Zhang (ed.), Zootaxa, 3148: 39–55, briefly reviewed the taxonomic history of this taxon and recognized two subfamilies, Necturinae and Proteinae to contain the living genera and associated fossil taxa. Fouquette and Dubois, 2014, Checklist N.A. Amph. Rept.: 229, noted that should the North American genus Necturus be included in a monotypic subfamily the name would have to be Phanerobrachinae Fitzinger, 1826, not Necturinae Fitzinger, 1843. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Dubois and Ohler, 2015, Bionomina, 9: 41-49, discussed the family-group nomenclature of Proteidae and noted that the correct authorship of Proteidae is Bonaparte, 1831. 

Contained taxa (9 sp.):

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