China, Guangxi Province, Huajiang, September 4, 2010
Andrias davidianus is the Giant Salamander still living in some parts of China, the Earth’s Largest Amphibian, a living fossil because it hasn’t changed much in 30 million years. Heiko had written extensively in aqua geõgraphia volume 11 about this unique salamander but never visited its distribution, which is limited to clear mountain streams in the Guangxi and Hunan Provinces. This last September he was invited by Guangxi Fisheries to do research…
The Giant Chinese Salamander, Andrias davidianus, has been recorded with a total length of up to 180 cm and is limited to only a few remaining unspoiled habitats in the two southern Chinese Provinces, Guangxi and Hunan today.
During a recent field trip to Guangxi, invited by Tommy Wong, Prof. Chen of the Shanghai Ocean University and by the Guangxi Fisheries represented by Dr Li Jianming, Heiko was able to visit the natural habitat of this unique species below the Maoey Mountain (left), where the largest of all living amphibians on planet earth – a prehistoric animal unchanged for nearly 30 million years – still lives. Below some photos an details of it.
Top: This creek is next to the house of the caretaker, called Niyuanzhuang (=Salamander source house). Above: The caretaker together with Heiko in the mountain creek, 450 m above Sea level, habitat of the Giant Salamander, collecting.
The Chinese Giant Salamander in the past has been eaten by locals and became extinct in most parts of China, also some people have killed it because they feared its large mouth with hundreds of small teeth, which can inflict severe wounds. But Heiko showed them that by petting it, it will be tame and is a very peaceful animal. This specimen had over 100 cm in total length (3.5 foot). This Salamander is an night active amphibian and lives mainly in the water as it cannot stand up, the short legs to not allow it to lift its weight of nearly 20 kilos, like in this specimen. The former legs have 4 fingers and the rear legs have 5 fingers. With its large and brought tail it can swim very fast under water but hardly move on land.
The caretaker of Niyuanzhouang helped me collecting and took well care of us all at this beautiful wooden Inn next to this amazing mountain creek for two days. And he has put up a large red sign with yellow letters: Salamander Source House. Thank you.