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BOOK REVIEW: Crocodile Newts The Genera Echinotriton and Tylototriton, by Axel Hernandez

DartFrog180

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Full Citation and Publishing Information:

Hernandez, Axel 2016. Crocodile Newts—The Primitive Salamandridae of Asia. (Genera Echinotriton and Tylototriton). Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt Am Mein, Germany. 415p.

ISSN: 1613-2327
ISBN: 98-3-89973-521-5

Approximate cost US (based on several vendors, hardcover): $65.

Because people, and biologists in particular often like to pick something upon which to specialize, books that give deep coverage of the biology of one or two entire or related genera have always seemed to me to be fairly uncommon (at least in the amphibian and reptile world). Here, the author, Axel Hernandez does an amazing job of batching in one title a fantastic treatment of two related genera (Echinotriton and Tylototriton) that are collectively known as “Crocodile Newts.”

The book begins with an acknowledgement section that credits other individuals known for their contributions to the knowledge of crocodile newts, followed by a brief section describing the author’s travels in Asia to see these animals. It then segues into a good coverage of the relationships within the group, as currently known at least (descriptions of new species and newly proposed phylogenies within the genus Tylototriton have been especially active in the past ten years), and a survey of the many conservation challenges facing crocodile newts, and other salamanders in general. There is a brief chapter that provides suggestions on different options for captive husbandry and breeding of these species, and more such information is included in some of the species accounts that follow. Then, the individual species accounts themselves follow, with 25 in total (two species of Echinotriton and 23 of Tylototriton).

The species accounts are, in my opinion, the most useful part of the book, with each covering sections on Diagnosis and Taxonomy, Distribution, Habitat Behavior and Ecology, Reproduction, Captive Husbandry, as well as Status, Threats, and Conservation to close each account. Throughout the species accounts there are large shaded rangemaps, which are a hallmark of many other Edition Chimaira books. There are many excellent photographs of individual specimens (including larvae), and habitats as well. Where the species accounts themselves were most useful to me, the habitat photos are a close second. Many of the habitat photographs show great examples of the types of habitats in China and neighboring south and southeast Asian nations. These photos and the Authors first hand descriptions of the places that Crocodile newts occur were more than inspirational, they firmed up a notion that I would someday like to travel to see these a few of these places myself.

The book itself is of medium format, with a page size of approximately 8 X 5.5 inches (20.3 X 14 cm), but has quality paper and binding. The prices I found were comparable from several online book sellers and the average (about $65 U.S., not including shipping) price of a new copy is very reasonable when considering the huge amount of information contained in this books 415 pages.

In summary, Hernandez’ book does an excellent job of covering the two genera of crocodile newts and should be a must have for any salamander enthusiast or biologist.
 

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FrogEyes

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Three species of Echinotriton. The author claims (figure 1) co-authorship of several species with Mian Hou, but his name is not included in authorship of any.
 

Christopher Georg

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Cool and interesting, thanks! Such books are really worthy of attention, I often read reviews, and then go directly to the book itself, actually like this Romeo And Juliet Essays, with the analysis of which I recommend you to get acquainted in more detail, because many have read fragments or parts, some interesting moments, and here is collected everything is interesting, go ahead and read, good luck!
 
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Otterwoman

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That looks like a really interesting book; I love my tylos. But it seems like every week they are reclassifying them or discovering new ones!
Not cheap either: starts at $72 used on Amazon. It's now on my wish list though!
 
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