The mythical leopard eel is real, but it is in fact, a salamander known as a reticulated siren and not an eel of any kind. An animal was first collected as early as 1970, but a paper confirming it as a new species was only published almost 50 years later in 2018.
THERE HAVE BEEN whispers for decades that a creature with the spots of a leopard and the body of an eel lurked in the swamps of Florida and Alabama. Rumor had it the animal was as long as a man’s arm, with glistening gray skin, and frills on either side of its face.
But unlike Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, this animal is real. And today scientists have given it a name: the reticulated siren. …
A giant salamander that is spotted like a leopard and has fronds resembling a Christmas tree on its head.
The scientific journal PLOS One published a study about the supersized salamander on Wednesday.
The salamander, officially called the “reticulated siren,” measures up to 2 feet in length when fully grown, and are completely aquatic, according to National Geographic.
David Steen, a wildlife ecologist at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center who discovered the creature said its existence has been rumored for decades.
“It was basically this mythical beast,” Steen told National Geographic.
He first saw the creature in 2009, but his team wasn’t able to find other samples for another five years. An official study was finally completed in 2018 and just published in PLOS ONE.
Some locals have called the animal a leopard eel, though it is neither a leopard nor an eel.
A specimen of this creature was collected as early as 1970, and it was briefly mentioned in a paper in 1975. It has also been known to locals as the ‘leopard eel’, said to be yellow with purple spots (it’s closer to greenish-yellowish with greenish-purplish spots).
But for some reason no one had taken the time to actually sit down and properly describe it as a species … a bird with comparable uniqueness to this animal would have looked something like an ostrich with polka dots. …
Here are a few images from the published paper:
Mythical beasts and where to find them.