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Chinese Giant Salamander: 200-Year-Old Living Fossil Found In Cave


Chinese fisherman discovered a 200-year old member of an almost extinct species. This Chinese giant salamander is considered as a ‘living fossil’.

The huge beast, at almost 52 kg and over 1.4 meters long, has been transferred to a protective research facility for study.

The big brown amphibian with a frog-like face has small eyes positioned far back on the sides of its head making it hard for it to see, so it uses highly developed smell and touch to find its prey.

Believed to be about 200 years old, the salamander is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is considered endangered. One of the largest amphibians, similar to the prehistoric Eryops from the Lower Permian Period 295 million years ago, the animal is a link with the deep past, according to the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) conservation project.

The creature, considered a delicacy, faces extinction due to water pollution, habitat loss, climate change, and hunting.

At this time, Chinese giant salamanders are considered to be critically endangered, with less than 50,000 of the species left in the wild but there is a plan in place to help rescue the species from extinction.

Endemic to China, the Chinese giant salamander (CGS hereafter) is the largest extant amphibian in the world. Part of the ancient Cryptobranchidae lineage dating back 170 million years, it earns the moniker “living fossil”. However, this species is Critically Endangered and is currently on the brink of extinction. …To save this species from extinction, a Conservation Programme has launched in China, initiated by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in collaboration with Chinese institutions and the government of China. The goal of this Conservation Programme is to build the evidence-base and capacity to underpin, promote and conduct a strategic conservation plan for the CGS within its native range in China.


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