/hel"ben'deuhr/, n.
1. a large salamander, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, of rivers and streams in eastern North America, having a flat, stout body and broad head.
2. Informal. a reckless or headstrong person.
[1805-15, Amer.; HELL + BENDER]

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Salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, family Cryptobranchidae) found in swift-flowing rivers in the eastern and central U.S. It grows to about 25 in.

(63 cm) long, has a stout body, flat head, broad tail fin, and wrinkled sides, and is typically brownish gray with black spots. Adults have lungs, but a gill slit persists from the larval stage on each side behind the head. Wrinkled fleshy folds on the body and legs increase surface area for respiration through the skin, the principal mode of oxygen intake. Hellbenders lie under stones during the day, emerging at night to feed on crayfish, small fishes, and worms.

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      (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), salamander belonging to the family Cryptobranchidae (order Caudata) found in the larger, swift-flowing streams of the Ohio (Ohio River) River system, the Susquehanna River, and other streams in the eastern and central United States. Adults grow to be 30–74 cm (12–29 inches) long and are stout-bodied and flat-headed, with a broad tail fin and wrinkled sides. The hellbender is typically coloured brownish gray with black spots. Adults have lungs, but a gill slit persists from the larval stage on each side behind the animal's head. The conspicuous wrinkled fleshy folds on the hellbender's body and legs are important in increasing surface area for respiration through the skin, which is the dominant mode of oxygen intake. During the day hellbenders lie under stones, but they emerge at night to feed on crayfish, small fishes, and worms. Mating usually occurs in late summer, and fertilization is external. The female hellbender lays a string of 150 to 900 eggs on the stream bottom in a nest that is scooped out by the male, who then guards them for the 10–12 weeks before they hatch.

      The Ozark hellbender (C. alleganiensis bishopi) is somewhat smaller, and its spots tend to be large blotches. It is found in the Black River system of Arkansas and Missouri.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • hellbender — large salamander of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, 1812, supposedly so called for its ugliness …   Etymology dictionary

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  • hellbender — [“helbenda* ] 1. n. a drinking bout. (Use caution with hell.) □ Jed is off on another of his hellbenders. □ One of his hellbenders can last for a week. 2. n. a heavy drinker; a drunkard. (The bender efers to bending the elbow with a drink in hand …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

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