Wednesday, 18 September 2019

World's biggest amphibian 'discovered' in museum

By Helen Briggs BBC News

17 September 2019

A newly-identified amphibian is possibly the largest on the planet, according to DNA from museum specimens.

Reaching nearly two metres in length, the South China giant salamander is critically endangered in the wild.

Scientists say renewed conservation efforts are needed if the animal is to be saved from extinction.

Harvesting for the luxury food trade has led to a collapse in numbers across China.

Previously considered a single species, analysis of specimens, living and dead, suggests there are in fact three species found in different parts of China.

The South China salamander is the largest of the three, which researchers suspect it is the largest amphibian alive today.

"We hope that this new understanding of their species diversity has arrived in time to support their successful conservation, but urgent measures are required to protect any viable giant salamander populations that might remain," he said.

Co-researcher, Melissa Marr, of the Natural History Museum London, said measures must be put in place that preserve the genetic integrity of each distinct species.

"These findings come at a time where urgent interventions are required to save Chinese giant salamanders in the wild," she said.

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