Enormous Salamander Found In Chinese Cave


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

203 Enormous Salamander Found In Chinese Cave
Another Chinese salamander swimming through its habitat. muzina_shanghai/Flickr; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Exploring a huge cave system is an adventurous experience unlike any other, whether it’s the glowworm-filled Waitomo Cave system in New Zealand or the surreal underwater labyrinth of The Pit off the coast of Mexico. You would, however, probably not expect to encounter a 1.4-meter-long (4.6-foot-long) gigantic salamander in the process. One of these impressive creatures was recently seen emerging from a cave in China, as reported by People’s Daily Online.

This slow-moving, nocturnal beast was minding its own business just outside its cavernous residence in Chongqing, southwestern China, when it was stumbled upon. It not only weighed 47 kilograms (104 pounds), but it is suspected to be around 200 years old. Those in captivity rarely make it past 50.




Salamanders are groups of amphibians seen in a range of environments, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. Many species have remarkable regenerative abilities – they are able to grow back entire limbs and clumps of tissue after experiencing a physical trauma.

Chinese salamanders (Andrias davidianus) are by far the largest amphibians in the world. Even though this new specimen seems pretty sizable, they have previously been found to reach lengths of 1.8 meters (5.9 feet). Remarkably, their tadpoles are just three centimeters (1.2 inches) long.


Like many other salamander species, it has an incredibly ancient evolutionary lineage. Its family Cryptobranchidae first emerged around 170 million years ago during the Jurassic period; its ancestor would have crawled alongside the Megalosaurus, a gigantic carnivorous dinosaur. These salamanders’ impressive nature is renowned around the world; one at London Zoo has been given his own doctoral degree.

Unfortunately, the Chinese salamander has fallen on hard times recently, with its habitat being regularly polluted and destroyed since the 1950s. Once widespread across China, it is now segregated into smaller population groups across the land. It is listed as a critically endangered species, so each and every specimen located is extremely valuable to conservationists.

The new find has been transported to a protective research facility for further study and care.

Main image: muzina_shanghai/Flickr


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