Observant readers will notice some new logos on the inside cover page of our soon to be released Museum Chronicle. Several units of UA Museums, including the Alabama Museum of Natural History, Gorgas House, and Moundville Archaeological Park, recently collaborated with UA’s Division of Strategic Communications to redesign their logos.
While the Gorgas House and Moundville Archaeological Park logos retained familiar graphic elements from their previous logos, the newest logo for the Alabama Museum of Natural History features a very special organism that reflects the unique biodiversity and natural history of Alabama.
In choosing a new design for the museum’s logo, museum staff considered dozens of plant and animal species (including fossils) that were either unique to the state or were representative of organisms particularly diverse within Alabama. Ultimately, the staff chose a stylized silhouette of a Red Hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti) for the new logo.
Its common name refers to the Red Hills district of Alabama that includes portions of Butler, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, and Monroe counties where the salamander is restricted to the Tallahatta, Hatchetigbee, and Nanafalia geological formations between the Alabama and Conecuh rivers. Here, these salamanders live in burrows found on steep, heavily shaded, hardwood- and shrub-covered slopes associated with one of these geologic formations.
Red Hills salamanders were first discovered in the late 1950s by Leslie Hubricht, a snail biologist who was collecting in south Alabama. It was subsequently formally described as a new genus and species due to its uniqueness in 1961 by the herpetologist Richard Highton.
In 1976, the Red Hills salamander was listed as a federally threatened species due to its small range and habitat loss due to timber harvesting. However, in 2000, a third-grade class at Fairhope Elementary School successfully petitioned the state legislature to have the Red Hills salamander designated as the official state amphibian of Alabama.
For more information about this very special salamander be sure to check out the “Discovering Alabama” episode on this species which is available for free on iTunes (https://goo.gl/TyGuZf).