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Hynobiid Salamanders (Hynobiidae) This group of Far Eastern salamanders are becoming increasingly popular in captivity, and thanks to the captive breeding efforts of one European hobbyist in particular (you know who I mean), they are becoming easier and easier to acquire.

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Old 25th June 2005   #1
Tim Johnson
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Ranodon sibricus
English common names: Xinjiang Salamander, Semirechensk Salamander, Central Asian Salamander

Here's an article related to this species from today's Xinhua News Agency:

"Living fossil" faces extinction in NW China

URUMQI, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The number of Xinjiang Salamander,
an endangered amphibian native to Xinjiang, decreased by a quarter
to 3,000 in the past four years, according to statistics from
local experts.

The figures were released by Wang Xiuling, a salamander expert
with the Xinjiang Normal University. Wang, together with other
professionals, carried out a survey in Wenquan County, the major
habitat for the Xinjiang salamander, from May to June this year.

The amphibian has been regarded as the "living fossil" because
it had coexisted with the dinosaurs about 300 million years ago.

They live only in streams at the border of China and Kazakhstan at
present.

The creature was first discovered by a Russian biologist in
Xinjiang in 1866. Many other experts failed to find any of them in
the following century.

Wang rediscovered the creature when a student brought her a "
four-footed fish" from his hometown Wenquan County in 1989, and
the surveys Wang carried out then showed the number at two places
in Xinjiang exceeded 8,000.

After the Xinjiang Salamander was placed under government
protection, herdsmen have been prevented from catching and selling
them. Nevertheless, global warming has made their habitats
degenerated, leaving many streams dried, she said.

Xinjiang set up the Wenquan Regional Salamander Nature Reserve
in 1997. Wang and her colleagues called for establishment of a
state-level nature reserve to protect this rare species from
extinction.

The primitive creature was born with fishlike gills and lungs.
The lizard-like creature is about 15 to 20 centimeters long and
appears greenish on land and brownish in water. ==END

(Message edited by TJ on June 25, 2005)



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Old 25th June 2005   #2
Tim Johnson
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Here's a related story from The Daily Telegraph of Dec. 11, 1999:

'Living fossil' faces threat of extinction

By David Rennie in Beijing

Climate change is threatening extinction for a 250-million-year old species of Chinese salamander just as herdsmen had been prevented from eating and selling them.

The Xinjiang salamander, which appears to be closely related to another "living fossil", the coelacanth, was discovered in 1866. It was not sighted again until June 1989, when a local herdsman saw "four-footed fish" in a mountain stream.

Nearly 9,000 salamanders were found by scientists and word quickly spread. Local people caught large numbers of them, placing them in tanks where they quickly died. Others were dried and sold as medicine.

Prof Wang Xiuling, a salamander expert, said yesterday: "Xinjiang is very poor, and people were simply not aware of what they were doing. People thought a rare animal would be good for the health."

The primitive creatures, which are born with gills like fish, but later develop lungs, have been placed under state protection. But they are now under a fresh threat as the wetlands of Xinjiang have been drying and shrinking in recent years, a pattern that has been seen across China.

source: http://www.millennium-debate.org/tel11de5.htm



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Old 25th June 2005   #3
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Some more info from the Xinjiang Conservation Fund:

START:
The Xinjiang salamander, a creature that has been in existence for 250 million years, is considered by scientists to be a living fossil of amphibious reptiles.

The Xinjiang salamander belongs to the family hynobius, order urodela, class amphibia and phylum vertebrata. It is probably the most primitive amphibious species in the world. The Xinjiang salamander was first discovered in 1866 and not sighted again until 1989, when a local herdsman saw Mfour-footed fishN in a mountain stream.

Several hundred million years ago, the Junggar Basin was a vast sea. Gradually, the ancient sea began to rise with less and less sea water. To adapt to this environmental change, a species of fish in the sea evolved into an animal with four limbs and were able to move on land, marking the onset of their amphibious life. Later on, earth-shaking changes took place and Tianshan Mountain arose, which was a disaster for many of the sea creatures. The Xinjiang salamander was luckier: it found itself 3,000 meters above sea level with the rise of Tianshan, and survived in the valleys where spring water gushed out.

The Xinjiang salamander still bears the characteristics of its ancient ancestors: the oval body, long tail and smooth skin are the features of fish which lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Its body also shows its adaptions to an amphibious existence: claws and four limbs evolved to allow life on land; its bulging eyes enabled it to see the increased danger facing it and the decreased food sources.

The two months from mid-May to mid-July is the Xinjiang salamander's breeding period. The eggs are laid under rocks and inseminated by male salamanders passing by. Forty days later, the new-born salamanders break out of the eggs. Baby salamanders have a pair of exterior gills, which disappear when they mature and begin to breathe through their lungs and skin. They hibernate under rocks for six months in winter.

The environment is harsh for the Xinjiang salamander, with extremes of heat and cold due to the high altitude and high latitude. It shelters from direct sunshine, cold snaps, hail and snow under rocks or in humid sand during the day. At night it crawl onto the bank to look for for food.

Professor Wang Xiuling, a zoologist at Xinjiang Normal University, is one of the few people in the world studying this mysterious creature. She has discovered that the species is critically endangered, and could be made extinct in the event of a serious drought or flood. The Xinjiang salamander has no natural enemies - apart from itself: young salamanders are often eaten by mature salamanders!

Receding wetlands and human interference in recent years have accelerated its decrease in number. Less than 4,000 Xinjiang salamanders now exist. A nature reserve has been established by the local government to protect them, but more efforts are needed to save this endangered species. (Liu Min)
==END

http://www.greenxinjiang.org/xjdzw/beini1.htm

(Message edited by TJ on June 25, 2005)



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Old 26th June 2005   #4
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Henk's got photos of this species posted on the Web at:

http://www.livingunderworld.org/phot...&whenterm=



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