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Meet Marvin: Belmont County resident and the oldest hellbender in the world

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July 04 2021 08:00 pm

BARNESVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – There’s a salamander in Belmont County that’s making history.

“Marvin” is a test case. Scientists really don’t know how long a Hellbender salamander lives, but they know that Marvin is the oldest in the world.

Naturalist Ralph Pfingsten of Cleveland studied salamanders. In 1984, he collected a young hellbender.

Didn’t know that she was a she at that time and named her Marvin and she lived with him in Cleveland from that time on.

Ellie Ewing, Executive Director, Captina Conservancy

Sadly, Ralph had a stroke at age 82, and could no longer care for Marvin.

Meanwhile the Captina Conservancy was looking for a Hellbender, so Marvin moved to Barnesville where she’s a social media icon.

Marvin has a TikTok page called Marvin Doing Nothing because she doesn’t do a whole lot. Mostly she hands out under big flat rocks because that is mostly what Hellbenders do in the wild.

Ellie Ewing, Executive Director, Captina Conservancy

She ventures out about twice a week for a lunch of earthworms.

The Captina Conservancy was thinking they’d get a young Hellbender, but in Marvin, they got a two-foot long rock star.

I was not expecting to get the oldest Hellbender that’s known anywhere. Marvin’s over 40 years old, but we ended up getting this really special Marvin instead.

Ellie Ewing, Executive Director, Captina Conservancy

Naturalist Ralph Phingsten passed away shortly after Marvin was moved to Barnesville this spring.

The conservancy keeps in touch with Ralph’s wife Joanie, letting her know what Marvin’s up to.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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