​Wonderful and worrying news at the same time. The Chinese giant salamanderwas (once) classified and considered just one species, under the scientific name of Andrias davidianus​. In a paper appeared just today on Current Biology shows that in reality this is an assemblage of species, five, or possibly, eight! This just indicates that the taxonomy of amphibians and many other animals in the world is still in a preliminary state and studies are extremely necessary. Not only to know the species living around us, but also, and hopefully, to protect them. All the recognised five species belonging to the genus Andrias from China are threatened and under risk of extinction. Not only for habitat alteration and food collecting, but also because the several populations, now recognised as putative species, have been translocated several times and put in conditions to accelerate hybridisation phenomena. This splitting in 5-8 species has been seen as surprising, and until now unrecognised due to the fact that the salamanders present similar morphology, while in reality they differentiated over the time in at least three major river systems, each splitting in several others. These basins likely caused a deep ecological and geographical divergence and genetical isolation, which led to speciation.

Current Biology, Turvey et al.: “Imminent extinction in the wild of the world’s largest amphibian” , DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.005

Andrias davidianus

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