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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Amphibians: Chinese Giant Salamander


The Giant Salamanders (Cryptobranchidae) are aquatic amphibians found in brooks and ponds in Japan, China and with a similar specimen in the United States. They grow up to 1.8 meters in length, though most individuals found today are considerably smaller.

During mating season, these salamanders will travel upstream where, after the fertilization of the eggs, the male will guard them for at least six months. At this point, the offspring will live off their noticeable stored fat until ready to hunt.

The giant salamander has been given a place in mythology. In one particular Asian myth, the salamander, although resembling a typical specimen, it makes its home in fires; the hotter the better. Early travelers to China were shown garments which, or so they were told, had been woven of wool from the salamander: the cloth was completely unharmed by fire. The garments had actually been woven from asbestos.

* Genus Andrias (Giant Salamanders)
** Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus)
** Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicus)
* Genus Cryptobranchus (Hellbenders)
** Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis )

The Swiss physician Johann Jacob Scheuchzer described in 1726 a fossil as Andrias scheuchzeri (Andrias means "image of man"). He assumed that it was a fossil of a human being that survived the Great Flood, and called it Homo diluvii testis (Witness of the Great Flood). The Teylers Museum in Haarlem (the Netherlands) bought the fossil in 1802, where it still is being exhibited. In 1812 the fossil was examined by Georges Cuvier who recognized it as being a Giant Salamander. The name of the genus Andrias was used for the Chinese and Japanese Giant Salamander.


  • Thanks - I have been looking for this reference for some student notes, I am preparing.


    By Blogger Rich Knight, at 18:36  

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