Chinese Giant Salamander Facts
- This astonishing work of evolution bears the informative, as well as accurate, common name of the Chinese Giant Salamander. It also bears another, more difficult to pronounce name. That’s because it holds the scientific name of the Andrias davidianus.
- It owes this term to the highly respected French zoologist and entomologist Charles Émile Blanchard. This researcher made the first known formal recognition of it as a separate and distinct species. This scientifically notable event occurred in 1871.
- For the moment, however, it also serves as the focus of ongoing and scientific debate. That’s due to recent DNA research. A 2018 study revealed that several subspecies of the remarkable creature may in fact exist. This would complicate its classification.
- It holds several distinctions in the annals of science, in fact. The first’s a positive one, of sorts. That’s because it’s presently the largest of all known amphibians. The second, however, isn’t as fortunate. It also remains among the most threatened.
- Therefore, the IUCN lists it on the organizations’ Red List of Threatened Species. On that list, it holds the regrettable status of Critically Endangered. It currently faces several threats to its existence, including habitat loss and human consumption.
- Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it also faces one more danger. The Chinese Giant Salamander now finds itself facing yet another factor augmenting these perils. That, of course, is the ever increasing concern of the ongoing effects of climate change.
Chinese Giant Salamander Physical Description
The most readily noticeable aspect of the aptly-named Chinese Giant Salamander has to be its sheer size. It easily earns its spot as the largest of all known amphibians. Unlike some of its kin, though, this species generally displays no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
The lone known exception to this somewhat uncommon fact occurs during mating season. That’s because, at that time, certain glands of the males swell temporarily. With that sole exception, the two genders remain virtually indistinguishable to the naked eye.
Specimens of both sexes, more precisely, frequently grow to relatively enormous sizes, as the name implies. A mature individual attains an average length of roughly 3.8 ft (1.16 m). These same specimens average a body weight of about 55 – 66 lb (24.9 – 29.9 kg).
Exceptional specimens do often occur, however. In point of fact, some attain lengths of as much as 5.9 ft (1.8 m). The weight of these same creatures sometimes equals a much as 130 lb (59 kg). The Chinese Giant Salamander clearly earns its common name.
Its also has a startling, wrinkly appearance. In color, it usually presents a dark brown, with a speckled or mottled pattern present. Some, though, can be dark brown, reddish, or even black. The creature further has a large head, wide mouth, and small, lidless eyes.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Urodela
- Family: Cryptobranchidae
- Genus: Andrias
- Species: A. davidianus
Chinese Giant Salamander Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The very name of the awesome Chinese Giant Salamander obviously provides a clue to its native range. The magnificent creature lives only in the portion of Asia that now forms the country of China. Even there, though, its locality remains somewhat limited.
Previously, the wonder of Nature seemed to be widespread throughout southern, southwest, and central China. Now, however, that range appears to be highly broken. The known populations appear from Qinghai to Jiangsu, to Guangxi, Guangdong, and Sichuan.
The greatest known concentrations further appear within three large river basin regions in the area. These consist of the Pearl River, the Yellow River, and the Yangtze. Yet another small population of these giant amphibians potentially exists in the Tibetan Plateau.
It also seems to have a preference for certain altitudes, where its choice of habitat is concerned. That’s due to the fact that most specimens appear at altitudes between 300 – 4,900 ft (100 – 1,500 m). One exception, though, is a grouping living at 13,800 ft (4,200 m).
This remarkable animal evolved as entirely aquatic in nature. Individuals mainly live in lakes with clear water, and rocky streams in the hills. In these locations, most make their home along the banks, typically in regions where dark, rocky crevices line those banks.
The Chinese Giant Salamander, like most of its kind, evolved as a carnivore. Its known prey consists of various local species. These include millipedes, insects, freshwater crabs, fish, and even small shrews. This natural wonder itself has no known natural predators.