Body smooth, without pores; lateral line of pores indistinct; top of the head with two porous bands: dorsal and caudal crests united, and uniformly crenate.
T. punctatus, Bonap. Faun. Ital. fasc. i. tab. 4. f. 4. T. aquaticus, Flem. Brit. An. p. 158. Lacerta aquatica, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 370? L. maculata, Shepp. in Linn. Trans, vol. vii. p. 53. Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 79. Salamandra punctata, Latr. Hist. Nat. des Sal. de France, pp. 31, & 53. pl. 6. f. 6. a. (Male). b. (Female). Smaller or Common Water-Newt, Shaw, Nat. Misc. vol. xi. pi. 412. Id. Gen. Zool. vol. iii. p. 298. pl. 83. Salamandre ponctuee, Cuv. Reg. An. torn. ii. p. 116.
Entire length from three and a half to four inches.
(Form). Always much smaller than the last species, from which it may be further distinguished by its smooth soft skin: tail terminating in rather a sharper point than in the T. palustris: fore feet, relatively, a little longer; but the disposition of the toes on both fore and hind feet similar: very little trace of a collar beneath the throat: two rows of pores on the top of the head, but none on the body; occasionally a few distant pores between the legs forming an indistinct lateral line. In the male, the dorsal crest commences at the occiput, and is more elevated than in the L. palustris; it also forms one continuous membrane with the crest of the tail; its margin, instead of being serrated, is regularly crenate, or festooned, throughout its whole length: during the season of love, the hind toes of this sex are also broadly fringed with dilated membranes. (Colours). Above light brownish gray, inclining to olivaceous; beneath yellowish, passing into bright orange in the spring: every-where marked with round black spots of unequal sizes: on the head the spots unite to form longitudinal streaks; there is generally also a yellowish white fascia commencing beneath the eyes, and terminating a little beyond them. Obs. The female is much less spotted than the male; the spots are also smaller: sometimes, in this sex, the under parts are quite plain.
Equally common with the last species, and found in similar situations.
The above species is subject to considerable variation. It is also often found on land, a circumstance which tends in some measure to alter its characters. In such specimens, the skin loses its softness; becoming at the same time opaque, and somewhat corrugated: the membranes of the back and tail entirely disappear, causing this last to appear narrower, and thicker in proportion to its depth: the toes, from being flattened, become rounded: the colours also are every-where more obscure. In this state it is the Lacerta vulgaris of Sheppard and Turton (and probably of Linnseus also), the Triton vulgaris of Fleming, the Brown Lizard of Pennant, and the Common Newt of Shaw. By these authors, the variety in question is considered as a distinct species, an opinion to which I was formerly myself inclined. I am, however, now perfectly satisfied, from the examination of a large number of specimens, that it is identical with the aquatic kind, and that all its peculiarities may be traced to the change of circumstances under which it is placed. Shep-pard lays great stress upon the fact of its being observed " of all sizes, from one to four inches in length, but never in any other than a perfect state;" and he considers this " a sufficient proof that, like the rest of the land lizards, it undergoes no change." The same circumstance is noticed by Shaw, who regards it as an argument in favour of its being viviparous. I suspect, however, that the period of time during which this species remains in the larva state, although perhaps constant in ordinary cases, is subject to much variation; and that if any thing occur to oblige the young to exchange their native element for another before they would naturally attain their perfect form, the gills are cast prematurely, to enable the animal to accommodate itself to its new circumstances. The fact of such small specimens, as Sheppard has noticed, being found on land is indisputable, but I think I have generally observed some traces of there having been gills at no very long period before. I may just add, that Sheppard appears to have confounded, as Pennant had done before him, the males of these reptiles, when possessing the dorsal and caudal fins, with the larvce.