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Salamander named strongest animal

The giant palm salamander is stronger than any other animal in the world, according to scientists.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 12:12 IST

The giant palm salamander - whose tongue explodes outward with more instantaneous power than any known vertebrate muscle - is stronger than any other animal in the world, according to scientists.

At 18,000 watts of power per kilogram of muscle, the salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini), found mostly in Central American forests, is nearly twice as strong as the Colorado river toad (Bufo alvarius), till now thought to be the strongest animal, a team of biologists led by Stephen Deban of the University of South Florida in Tampa found.

The salamander's strength doesn't come from muscle power alone but from elastic tissue that researchers believe stores up energy before exploding on release.

"It's kind of like stretching out a rubber band and letting it snap back, or shooting a bow and arrow," Deban was quoted as saying by New Scientist.

Deban and his colleagues think that stretchy lengths of collagen tissue intertwined with the tongue muscles are the likely secret of the salamander's strength.

High-speed video revealed that these animals released their tongues at a rate faster than could be achieved through muscle contraction alone.

Electrodes on the tongue then showed that the muscles contract for one-fifth of a second, or about 100 times longer than the actual firing time of the muscle cells.