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The animal on the cover of ActionScript: The Definitive Guide is a siren, a particular type of salamander with a tail; they diverged from other amphibian species (including frogs) early in amphibian evolution. All salamanders have smooth skin that is kept moist by secretions from numerous glands. When their environment becomes too dry, too hot, or too cold, the cold-blooded salamanders burrow into mud and their body functions slow down. Sirens develop cocoons to shelter themselves until conditions improve.
Sirens are considered very primitive salamanders, as they are aquatic (live permanently in water), lack hind legs, have reduced front legs, gills and other larval features into maturity, and their offspring are fertilized externally in the water. They are active at night, coming out and swimming much like eels do, using their dorsal fin in side-to-side motion to propel them forward. As they do so, they feed by gulping at insects and larvae. They expel plant matter through their gills.
Like all amphibians, sirens are an important part of a balanced ecosystem. They are small predators who in turn are preyed upon by fish and birds. Their glandular skin and fragile systems put sirens in the unfortunate position of being early pollution indicators in their freshwater habitats. Siren intermedia, an unusual siren subspecies that inhabits a large North American range and is known for its ability to produce vocal clicks and shrills, has nearly disappeared from Michigan, perhaps due to the presence of Rotenone, a chemical tool used to manage fisheries.
Darren Kelly was the production editor, Norma Emory was the copyeditor, and Clairemarie Fisher O'Leary was the proofreader from ActionScript: The Definitive Guide. Claire Cloutier, Linley Dolby, and Rachel Wheeler provided quality control. Judy Hoer wrote the index. Interior composition was done by Matthew Hutchinson, Sada Preisch, Edith Shapiro, Mary Sheehan, and Gabe Weiss.
Ellie Volckhausen designed the cover of this book, based on a series design by Edie Freedman. The cover image is a 19th-century engraving from the Dover Pictorial Archive. Emma Colby produced the cover layout with QuarkXpress 4.1 using Adobe's ITC Garamond font.
David Futato designed the interior layout based on a series design by Nancy Priest. Clifford Dyer converted the files from Microsoft Word to FrameMaker 5.5.6 using tools created by Mike Sierra. The text and heading fonts are ITC Garamond Light and Garamond Book; the code font is Constant Willison. The illustrations that appear in this book were produced by Robert Romano and Jessamyn Read using Macromedia Freehand 9 and Adobe Photoshop 6. This colophon was written by Sarah Jane Shangraw.
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