Newly Discovered Giant Salamander Species Is 'World's Biggest Amphibian'

Chinese giant salamanders can grow more than five feet in length

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A newly-identified amphibian is possibly the world's biggest, new research of museum specimens shows. According to Phys.org, researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and London's Natural History Museum identified new species of giant salamander using DNA from museum specimens. The specimens were collected in the 1920s.

National Geographic explains that scientists have long known that the largest amphibians are the giant salamanders of China. They can grow more than five feet in length and are now critically endangered in the wild.

However, while scientists earlier considered them one species, new DNA analysis shows that Chinese giant salamanders are not one, but rather at least three different species.

The species that is probably the largest of the three has now been given a new name: Andrias sligoi, or the South China giant salamander, according to a study published September 17 in the journal Ecology and Evolution. Researchers suspect that 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," said Professor Samuel Turvey of ZSL to BBC. The decline in their number has been attributed to over-exploitation for food, along with habitat loss and poaching.

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