Researchers identify world’s largest salamander

A painting from the Zoological Society of London depicts Andrias sligoi, the South China giant salamander, now considered to be the world’s largest. ©Zoological Society of London

At nearly 2 meters long, the world’s largest salamander shouldn’t be a secret. But what scientists believed was one species — the critically endangered Chinese giant salamander — is in fact three, according to recent research. Researchers identified two new species, including Andrias sligoi, the South China giant salamander, which is now considered to be the world’s largest amphibian. “It’s amazing in this day and age that it took until now to work out what the world’s largest amphibian is,” lead author Samuel Turvey told National Geographic.

Chinese giant salamander are prized as delicacies, and their numbers are plummeting due to overexploitation for food. “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,” Turvey said.

Read more from National Geographic here, and read the study in Ecology and Evolution here.