Last week, outside the city of Chongqing, China, a fisherman was wading through a river when he experienced what can only be described as the most repulsive feeling in the world. He stepped on something squishy, and didn’t know what it was.
Luckily, the unknown squish was only an Andrias davidianus, a giant Chinese salamander, the largest amphibian on Earth.
Giant salamander enjoy a mythical reputation. It’s a beast that’s comfortable in fire, or at least heat resistant. The salamander appears as a symbol in Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 on the firefighters’ uniforms, and in Harry Potter salamanders outside of the muggle world “feed on flames.” But this myth only exists because salamanders hide in rotted logs, and when people used to burn logs and watch the salamanders make their escape, they believed the flames to be their birthplace.
This particular mega ‘mander, which was turned over to authorities by the fisherman who believed it to be ill, weighs in at a whopping 114 pounds, and is 4.5 feet long. It could also be up to 200 years old, which would put this big guy’s birthdate at just after the War of 1812. And you thought your iPhone 4 was old.
For reference, your run-of-the-mill California Tiger Salamander (pictured below), is on average about 7 to 8 inches long.
The giant Chinese salamander on the other hand, is almost 7 times as long, and, according to its grimace, has clearly been around the aquatic block a few times.
Unfortunately, the salamander is considered critically endangered, in large part due to demand from Chinese markets for salamander meat. And although there are some farms in China that breed salamanders specifically for food, it’s still unclear whether these farms have positive or negative impacts on native populations (more salamanders are produced, but in confinement, it’s easier to spread disease).
This salamander is likely to end up in posh captivity however, like this giant from 2014, so at least we don’t have to worry about him/her ending up on somebody’s dinner plate.
What do you think about this squishy behemoth? Does it make you want to run out and save some endangered amphibians, or are you good without all of that squish in your life? Let us know in the comments section below!
Featured Image: CCTV News