Sirenidae Gray, 1825

Class: Amphibia > Order: Caudata > Family: Sirenidae
7 species

Ichtyoida Latreille, 1825, Fam. Nat. Regne Animal: 105. Unavailable, coined as a family to include Siren. [Spelling verified.]

Sirenina Gray, 1825, Ann. Philos., London, Ser. 2, 10: 215. Type genus: Siren Linnaeus, 1767.

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

SireneaHemprich, 1829, Grundniss Naturgesch. Höhere Lehr., Ed. 2: xix.

Ichthyoidei- Eichwald, 1831, Zool. Special.: 163. Incorrect subsequent spelling and redelimitation of family to include Hypochthon Merrem.

SirenaBlainville, 1835, Nouv. Ann. Mus. Hist. Nat., Paris, 4: 280. Explicit family.

SirenidaeHogg, 1838, Ann. Nat. Hist., London, 1: 152; Bonaparte, 1840, Mem. Accad. Sci. Torino, Ser. 2, 2: 395; Bonaparte, 1840, Nuovi Ann. Sci. Nat., Bologna, 4: 101.

SireninaBonaparte, 1839, Mem. Soc. Sci. Nat. Neuchâtel, 2: 16; Bonaparte, 1840, Nuovi Ann. Sci. Nat., Bologna, 4: 101 (named on page 11 of offprint); Bonaparte, 1840, Mem. Accad. Sci. Torino, Ser. 2, 2: 395. Treated a subfamily of Sirenidae. 

Sirenes Fitzinger, 1843, Syst. Rept.: 35. Type genus: Siren Linnaeus, 1767.

Trachystomata Stannius, 1856, Handb. Zootomie Wiebelthiere, 2: 4. Explicit family-group name for Siren and therefore unavailable for above-family group nomenclature. Also unavailable for family-group use because it is not based on a generic name. 

Sirenida —  Knauer, 1878, Naturgesch. Lurche: 95.

SirenoidaeHay, 1930, Carnegie Inst. Publ., 390(1): 842. Explicit superfamily.

SirenoidiaDubois, 2005, Alytes, 23: 20. Epifamily.

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

English Names

Sirens (Jordan, 1878, Man. Vert. North. U.S., Ed. 2: 198; Cochran, 1961, Living Amph. World: 44; Frank and Ramus, 1995, Compl. Guide Scient. Common Names Amph. Rept. World: 36).


Southeastern USA and extreme northeastern Mexico.


Goin and Goin, 1962, Intr. Herpetol., argued for the recognition of Sirenidae as a distinct order, Trachystomata (also known as Meantes), but Estes, 1965, Am. Zool., 5: 319-334, placed Sirenidae in Caudata. See Goin and Auffenberg, 1955, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 113: 497-514, for account of some fossil members. Gao and Shubin, 2001, Nature, 410: 574-577, provided an analysis of molecular data and morphology (including relevant fossils) that suggested that Sirenidae is the sister taxon of Proteidae. 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: 115, also supported a sister taxon relationship of Sirenidae and Proteidae. But, Wiens, Bonett, and Chippindale, 2005, Syst. Biol., 54: 91-100, placed Sirenidae in the traditional position as the sister taxon of remaining Caudata, as did Roelants, Gower, Wilkinson, Loader, Biju, Guillaume, Moriau, and Bossuyt, 2007, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 104: 887-892. See account by Martof, 1974, Cat. Am. Amph. Rept., 151: 1-2. Sever, 1991, J. Morphol., 207: 283-301, discussed clocal structure as it reflects phylogeny. See comment under Caudata. 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 (see comment in Amphibia record) provided as part of a larger molecular analysis suggested that Sirenidae is the sister taxon of all other salamanders families in the Diadectosalamandroidei (all salamanders except for the Cryptobranchoidei). 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. Powell, Collins, and Hooper, 2011, Key Herpetofauna U.S. & Canada, 2nd Ed.: 11, provided a key to the genera and species. Chen, Wang, Liu, Xie, and Jiang, 2011, Curr. Zool., Chengdu, 57: 785–805, reported on a tree of 11 protein-coding mtDNA genes that suggests that Sirenidae is the sister taxon of the Cryptobranchoidei. However, Shen, Liang, Feng, Chen, and Zhang, 2013, Mol. Biol. Evol., 30: 2235–2248, on the basis of substantial molecular evidence but few terminals suggested that Sirendiae is the sister taxon of Ambystomatidae + Salamandridae + Proteidae + Rhyacotritonidae + Plethodontidae. Vitt and Caldwell, 2014, Herpetology, 4th Ed., provided a summary of life history, diagnosis, and taxonomy. Raffaëlli, 2022, Salamanders & Newts of the World: 5–15, provided taxonomic accounts for all sirenids, summarizing systematics, life history, population status, and distribution (including polygon maps). 

Contained taxa (7 sp.):

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