Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and London’s Natural History Museum have identified two new species of Salamanders from China. One of the newly identified species, the South China giant salamander (Andrias sligoi) could well be the worlds largest Amphibian.
They cross-matched the preserved DNA sample from a Salamander which was an inhabitant of London Zoo in early twentieth century to that of the Salamander species discovered and confirmed it to be a new species. The other unnamed new species, from Huangshan (the Yellow Mountains), is still only known from tissue samples and has yet to be formally described.
“Our analysis reveals that Chinese giant salamander species diverged between 3.1 and 2.4 million years ago,” said Professor Samuel Turvey of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology. These dates correspond to a period of mountain formation in China as the Tibetan Plateau rose rapidly, which could have isolated giant salamander populations and led to the evolution of distinct species in different landscapes. The decline in wild Chinese giant salamander numbers has been catastrophic, mainly due to recent overexploitation for food, researchers said.