Researchers try to save huge U.S. salamander

RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press
In this June 18, 2014, photo, Rod Williams, a Purdue University associate professor of herpetology, holds a hellbender that he and a team of students collected in southern Indiana's Blue River near Corydon, Ind., during a survey of populations of the rare amphibian. Hellbenders, an aquatic animal that's North America's largest salamander, are endangered in Indiana and four other states and face habitat loss and other pressures in the 11 other mostly Eastern states where they live in swift-flowing, rocky rivers and streams. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan)

CORYDON, Ind. — With a long, slimy body and beady eyes, North America's largest salamander wouldn't top any cutest animal lists. The hellbender's alien appearance and mysterious ways have earned the big amphibian a bad reputation and unflattering nicknames ranging from snot otter to devil dog.