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Fire-Belly & Sword-Tail Newts (Cynops & Hypselotriton) Perhaps the most famous and frequently bred newts in captivity, the fire-bellied newts and sword-tail newts are well known throughout the world as being excellent, gregarious captives.


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Old 28th September 2004   #61
Tim Johnson
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I'm just passing this along, not vouching for the veracity of it, but somebody in Hong Kong once told me that with supposed C. chenggongensis, there is a thick yellow line on the dorsum, which is usually thicker than is the case with cyanurus, and that some chenggongensis have orange spots on the tail in addition to black spots there. With some, the orange spots are on their bodies as well.



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Old 28th September 2004   #62
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"...a thick yellow line on the dorsum .... orange spots on the tail ...."

This is, what you can see on Angus photo!

Paul



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Old 28th September 2004   #63
angus
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Nate,

I think we are both right, you got your points on identifying Chenggongensis and I have my points too. Your points rely totally on the definition and graphic from :Thorn/Rafaelli's 2000・ paper; and :Rare and Economic Amphibians of China;; my points reply on the :Atlas of Amphibians of China; plus my personal experience.
I can understand why you don・t agree with me, but please allow me to explain my point of view and the information I gathered.
1. Chinese herpetology paper is not always accurate, it is written to announce a newfound, but sometimes it confuses people ; this is especially true on species distribution. I am so sure on this because I am in the circle. I find many rare species in the area that don・t suppose has any, but find none in the area that should has some. What I think is that as species finders and animals dealers in China, they simply don・t want to let people know where the species from. New species either have a high market value or not also means money to them, no finders/ dealers want to share their money with their competitors.
2. Drawing on Chinese herpetology is bad. Many graphic in the :Atlas of Amphibians/ Reptiles of China; don・t draw like the real species and many Chinese herpetology papers use the same drawing over and over again. This is why I won・t identify a species with their drawing. Here is an example, please click this link and see the comparison. http://www.probreeder.com/drawing.jpg and http://www.probreeder.com/real.jpg
3. I know the type preserved species of Chenggongensis is stored in the Chengdou Bio Research Center. However, no one is able to borrow it out to have a brief look. When I said no one, the one means researchers, professors, research centers, other universities. In fact, my amphibian professor friend try to borrow it several times with no success and he told me this once :He is kind of wondering if the original type specimen really existed or may be it is not a chenggongensis and someone try to cover it up. I am so confused on this too. How can this happen? Why can・t the type specimen show to people? If we can see the type specimen, I am sure we won・t have this chenggongensis topic.
4. I don・t trust Zhao because he is one of the researchers who reject the existence of Goniurosaurus luii and Teratoscincus roborowski. Goniurosaurus luii is long existed species in Guangxi, China, but before it is called G. luii now, it is commonly know as G. licthenfelderi in all Chinese researcher groups. Between 1992 and 1993, Lui went to Guangxi three times to search for this species and he believe they are something different than the normal G. licthenfelderi. After he got some specimen on hand, he asked some Chinese researchers about it, but all of them think it is just a regular G. licthenfelderi. He don・t trust they opinion, so Lui send 6 of the suspected specimen to a US university to identify. The result is :yes;; it is something new. In 1999, Goniurosaurus luii is a valid species accepted internationally. If you noticed, the scientific name of this species is credited to my friend Wai Lui. I didn・t hear this story from somebody, but from the mouth of Wai Lui. Because of this story, I really wonder if the herpetologists in China are qualify for their profession. Well, please keep in mind, it is not an offence to them, but the herpetology development state is still young in China, so they may not be good enough. Also, a doctor degree from China is not qualified as a real PHD in most western world.

I still believe my chenggongensis is really a chenggongensis. No one tells me if it is or not. What I did is similar to Tim, according to the area I find them, their appearance and my experience; I called them Chenggongensis. If you would like me to put a question mark behind the scientific name, I will do so. But still, no one can provide if it is a chenggongensis or not. It is a mysteryKat least for now.

I hope I didn・t offence you in any way! I am just trying to distribute my point of view and I hope it is relevant in this forum as people from the western will know more about our Chinese herpetology.

(Message edited by anguslee on September 28, 2004)



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Old 28th September 2004   #64
mattias
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I fully comprehence what you are stating about science and politics in China.

The printed material is not reliable in what we put in that word. Treat the information after what it is worth and then it will be usefull again.

cheers
Mattias



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Old 28th September 2004   #65
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"...Jesper, it's certainly true (especially in the past) that many "new" species were described erroneously. A different color pattern or size was often enough to get a "new" species. Thankfully DNA technology is improving this. In the case of Yunnan Cynops, we've already seen shautokokensis and chuxiongensis dropped as mistakes. Seems chenggongensis is next, eh? ... "

Nate, I agree to your statement. It is the result of the actual publication and discussions.
But in my case, there is a rest of doubt.
I know some reliable people which say there is a difference between yunnanensis and chuxiongensis. But I think that must not be an indication for an own subspecies but could be.
Shautokokensis was described from animals which were imported by Klaus Haker, Germany.
- Yes, I know - Risch and Romer found, that there are no Cynops in Honkong. But " Sha Tou Kwok " is not a city in Honkong!
I talk to Mr. Haker very long about this problem an read the whole correspondence to the Import. And now there is this doubt!Click the image to open in full size.
And David Wake wrote me:
"I too worried about shataukokensis and think it may be valid. What is needed is a thorough study of south Chinese Cynops."

But I agree until there is not a clear proof, we should suppose the obvious which means:
shautokokensis and chuxiongensis are mistakes and chenggongensis perhaps is only a subspecies of cyanurus!

Hope, I did not make more confusion to our problem!

Paul



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Old 28th September 2004   #66
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"But I agree until there is not a clear proof, we should suppose the obvious which means: shautokokensis and chuxiongensis are mistakes and chenggongensis perhaps is only a subspecies of cyanurus!"

-Aye, now we're talking!

Tim, someday you gotta tell me what you do to find information like this. I suppose it's through your understanding of chinese, you said something 'bout shared written language Japanese-Chinese right?

BTW Chengdou Bio Research Center = Chenggu Institute of Technology gotta now where I'm heading!Click the image to open in full size.
Or do we have multiple specimens??

Paul - very interesting to hear the background of these "species"!

Mattias, so you like Voltaire eh? Are you trying to tell me I am naive??Click the image to open in full size.
Il faut cultiver son jardin!

Nate - I am looking forward to the original description even though it might not shed light over this matter.

Angus - I totally respect your opinion and I think it's great that you share it! Strange that they will not show their specimens.



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Old 28th September 2004   #67
edward
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One of the items that probably should be mentioned is that the color of preserved specimens is often very different from the color of live animals. This may make it difficult to see the yellow color....
So even reviewing the specimen may not end the debate.



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Old 29th September 2004   #68
nate
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Wow, so many comments, so many directions...but into the fray...Click the image to open in full size.

First let me ask all participants a question: Do you feel it is merely coincidence that the drawings provided just happen to match the original description but clearly don't match Angus' photograph? Or do you feel there might be something to this...?Click the image to open in full size.

I find it puzzling that so many of you have so little faith in original descriptions. If we are not to take them as the supreme authority in the absence of solid data to the contrary, then we simply cannot take any species identification seriously. If we are to simply disregard the fact that the original description states that chenggongensis had a row of spots, then what's the point? In this case, I already have chenggongensis living in my backyard here in Missouri. Why not? There is no concrete proof otherwise...right? Click the image to open in full size.

Angus: I will respond to your comments point by point and numbered as you have.
1.) All herpetology is subject to inaccuracies, not just China. Species ranges are always being refined. I understand the possibility for these problems are compounded in China with new species and their localities due to the problem of the pet trade. However, this does not seem to have any bearing on whether you possess chenggongensis as described by Kou and Xing. In this case, if you are suggesting that Kou and Xing were in error, the burden of proof rests with you. Click the image to open in full size.
2.) All herpetology drawings (not just Chinese) are subject to the criticisms you present. This will always be compounded when animals show variable coloration (as cyanurus does). However, <u>the drawings of chenggongensis also match the original description.</u> I have a hard time dismissing this as coincidence, as you seem to be doing.
3.) That's a very curious situation if true, I agree. However, it does not support your position that you possess chenggongensis, it only strengthens Zhao's that chenggongensis is not a valid species, but rather a form of cyanurus.
4.) I'll have to take you at your word, as I don't know anything about that subject. But even if true, it does not erase the fact that your chenggongensis do not resemble chenggongensis as described by Kou and Xing, the researchers who discovered it. But please understand, it's difficult for me to take it too seriously when you equate "Atlas of Amphibians of China" with "Rare and Economic Amphibians of China" or "Les Salamandres", when the latter two are clearly more detailed and scholarly works on the subject of chenggongensis. Can you not see the difference in quality of these sources?

The difference I see with Tim's situation with deloustali versus your situation with chenggongensis is that Tim's animals actually looked like deloustali but your animals look like cyanurus. You have not offended me and I sincerely hope I have not offended you. I am very glad to finally have some Chinese hobbyists discuss such things here and I'm sure all of us here feel this way.

Tim: Clearly, rumours abound on the subject. If we circulate too many of them, we really might as well be talking UFOs like Jesper points out. Click the image to open in full size.

Paul: "But I agree until there is not a clear proof, we should suppose the obvious which means: shautokokensis and chuxiongensis are mistakes and chenggongensis perhaps is only a subspecies of cyanurus!" <u>Amen!</u> Click the image to open in full size.

Or at the very least, we should not label an animal as chenggongensis when it does not match the original description.

Jesper: If an original description cannot shed light on the question of species identification, then all is lost. I had failed to respond to your previous posts about science and type specimens. As part of my systematics research, I am intimately familiar with type specimens, localities, and original species descriptions. I wholeheartedly disagree with Mattias and others who seem to feel it is all subjective and am quite puzzled as to how they came to these conclusions. But in my experiences, original species descriptions have always included photos or drawings, and incredibly detailed accounts of the animal's physical description. Anything less, is less than science. Later research into the question may often reveal that the new species was not warranted, but I have yet to see any formal description (and especially not in the last 50 years - cheggongs were described in 1983) where the animals in question were not presented in a way to be rigorously analyzed and then accurately and thoroughly dismissed or accepted at a later date.

A perfect example of this would be Typhlotriton braggi which was described as distinct from Typhlotriton spealaeus (now Eurycea spelaeus). The authors in question described the new species based on several key morphological features. Subsequent research has shown that these features are not unique to the populations described as braggi and the species was discontinued. However, if one visits the type locality (as I have) one still finds animals that fit the original description of braggi. This is only one example of why I have faith in original descriptions.

Sorry for the length, people. Still working on additional translations including your requests, Tim, to translate that dichotomous key you posted.



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Old 29th September 2004   #69
Tim Johnson
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Wow! More on that later, perhaps, but let me first correct what I wrote earlier.

The preserved specimen is not at the "Chenggu Institute of Technology" but at the Chengdu Institute of Biology! I was half asleep when I wrote that...



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Old 29th September 2004   #70
Tim Johnson
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Jesper, all you need to do is download Chinese script into your computer and go to the Chinese-language Yahoo site or better yet the Google-linked http://www.163.com/ for a search using the romanized name of the species. To get further info, find out the characters used for the name of the species in Chinese (often conveniently located next to the romanized one), then use the cut and paste function to perform a new search using just those characters.

Elementary, Watson! Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 29th September 2004   #71
Tim Johnson
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bear with me, I'm just posting this pic here for a sec after resizing it

Click the image to open in full size.

<font color="ff0000">** this dichotomous key from Rare and Economic Amphibians of China has been moved here by from an above post -- sorry but I have failed in my attempts to move it back to where it was ** </font>

(Message edited by TJ on September 30, 2004)



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Old 29th September 2004   #72
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Nate - I said might....that means I haven't decided what to believe yet.
It is certainly difficult to judge the scientific value of these Chinese books that have been cited as I have seen neither.
I find it impossible to form an opinion of the quality of practical biology in China based upon what has been said here. Obviously some people do not trust the chinese scientific community.
I've read enough articles from the western scientific community to know that one has to be VERY sceptical about information. If not a certain result has been confirmed by several laboratories and have been published for anyone to see it should not be trusted. I'd go so far as to say most articles I have read has contained some data that is highly questionable presented as facts.
Generally books do not carry the validity of a scientific article even though it references to them. The validity increases if it is point references instead of chapter references of course, but still books are generally more hypothetical and draw far-reaching conclusions more often.
So how many articles describing chenggongensis have we been able to track? Well Nate is on his way to getting one at least!
Maybe this is a too narrow field to have the resources needed to be fully scientific accepted?
At least this may be the case in China?
If there's only one article describing chenggongensis it can hardly be seen as valid? or?
I don't know the standard of practical biology!
Maybe there is several hidden in the jungle of chinese journals eh?



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Old 29th September 2004   #73
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Tim, heheClick the image to open in full size.
I thought it strange that a Technology institute carried biological samples!

About the chinese - yes so I can find something but I can't read it!! I would only know that the page contains chenggongensis for example!
Then what?



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Old 29th September 2004   #74
Tim Johnson
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Then you plead with your Chinese buddy to translate it for you Click the image to open in full size.

Just as Zhou is said to not accept C. chenggongensis as a species in its own right, there are other caudate "species" out there that have been called into question by the top scholars in the field, but remain listed in official documents as species. In Japan, it's the Mountain Salamander (Hynobius tenuis), which Masafumi Matsui, who is regarded as the foremost authority on Japanese caudates, regards as merely a subspecies or synonym of Abe's Salamander (Hynobius abei).

It's really surprising what Angus said about the restricted access to the C. chenggongensis
specimen or specimens...but then again, maybe not so surprising if it turns out not to be a separate species after all. I would think that Zhou himself would have access to it though, and I don't know what he would have to hide since he himself is said to consider it not a separate species.



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Old 29th September 2004   #75
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Jesper: "If there's only one article describing chenggongensis it can hardly be seen as valid? or?"

If it just so happens to be the formal species description, yes, it should taken as valid until proven otherwise. I think it's way too premature to question the validity of all Chinese books on the subject just because "Atlas" was small and lacking in thorough info. Here in the U.S., one can go to any bookstore and find several poor-quality "guides" to American reptiles and amphibians. Often, the information in these books is outdated, too brief, or sometimes plain wrong. But just because such books exist does not mean we should throw out the validity of North American herpetology! Especially when the proper information exists in other books...

Tim: "It's really surprising what Angus said about the restricted access to the C. chenggongensis specimen or specimens...but then again, maybe not so surprising if it turns out not to be a separate species after all."

Yes! Click the image to open in full size.

At the risk of becoming very unpopular in this discussion, I'll point out that China has a reputation for destroying or otherwise concealing anything which may be deemed as embarrassing for its government or state-run sciences.



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Old 29th September 2004   #76
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I have not questioned Chinese books, I said I questioned most books there is on scientific matters. All scientific material should be constantly questioned. I gave my reasons above.

Questioning does not mean that you disapprove or think everything in that genre sucks Nate...
It means that you want a second or third source before seeing the info as valid.

As I said I do not know the practice in this field but I should think it wise to have a new species description confirmed, reviewed and questioned by the scientific community.

In general an experiment with new findings isn't valid until it has been repeated several times by independent labs. There really should be some kind of security like this in practical biology as well. I suppose that the security would be based upon photos and preserved specimens.
However isn't it realistic to let several independent researchers see these specimens and let them form their own opinions about them and publish counter-articles etc?
For example Zhao publishing an article where he questions the validity of chenggongensis and why.

(Message edited by jesper on September 29, 2004)



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Old 29th September 2004   #77
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I hope you don't mind me butting into this debate again but i have a few questions:

has anyone done a DNA test on the species in question yet?

my views on the subject are that we cannot have a proper debate on the subject until someone actually does a DNA test in the first place. however i would like to think we have a new species here.

Angus:
1. do you still have the newt/s?
2. how many do you have?

anyone:
what are the possibilities of having a new species on our hands?



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Old 29th September 2004   #78
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Ok, I've decided to close this thread because of size Click the image to open in full size.

I will continue it as "Cynops chenggongensis part II



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