Scottish Newts Have A Friend In A Budding 12-Year-Old Scientist
Callum Ullman-Smith has spent nearly half his life - that is, five years - keeping an eye on palmate newts in Scottish pools. And on Sunday, the 12-year-old will head to Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, to present his discoveries at the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Symposium.
The newts live in nine rock pools near the shore of Loch Alsh, an inlet a few miles from his primary school.
Ullman-Smith's newts are unusual, according to the BBC: the pools they live in are filled with saltwater, rather than the freshwater almost all other amphibians need to survive. The budding amphibian expert tells The Press And Journal he's "nervous about it, but very honoured."
Palmate newts, one of six amphibians that live in Scotland, are protected from buying and selling under a 1981 law, but possessing the animals is not an offense.
Although common in the United Kingdom, these newts are much rarer in continental Europe, where loss of breeding pools and non-native predators contribute to a declining population.