Cynops chenggongensis

M

mattias

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Excuse me for jumping into the discussion so suddenly and from nowhere.

I do not know what experiences you guys have dealing with original descriptions and type material. I have been working with some 20 species (fossil species) with original descriptions in Russian for many of them.

My experience with Russian scientific material is that the descriptions in words many time is useless and that you really have to rely on good pictures or drawings if you are not to go where the types are kept and study them directly. The text is not accurate enough, but a combination with drawings makes you understand what is meant.

The same should be the case for Chinese and Japanese material I am afraid.

My supervisor has had a lot of those problems. Actually three out of four professors at the apartment have studied Chinese and Russian languages just to be able to read the original texts themselves!

This is a major problem for the disciplines dealing with zoological problems. Often the material is not described in any other language either. Since it is the only description of a certain animal it unfortunately can not be neglected either. The same was the case for French scientists and German too, some decades ago. Now the young generation always let new material get published in international journals too, most often in English. So that it is available for everyone.

I have even tried to get palaeontologists from Russia to translate the material for me, but unfortunately the terminology is different for different animals. And even though they where palaeontologists I could not make any clear sense of it. Only when they knew the area I could use the translations.

I suppose the same goes for the translations in Thorns splendid book. It actually could be a misunderstanding.

I suppose Angus Lee could be right in his arguments and that he deserves a little nicer treatment.

Who is conducting the DNA-studies and where?

A humble
Mattias Muller
 
J

jesper

Guest
Hi Mattias!
Yes, exactly the text is unreliable - so we turn to the drawings. What do we see? Dorsolateral stripes of orange-yellow spots!
Exactly what the animal sold as chenggongensis by Angus do not have.
I for one object to selling animals under a specific name, when it is not certain what they are.
 
M

mattias

Guest
The dorsolateral stripe is not running to the back of the tailtip, but the dorsal stripe is...

I do not have any comment about selling those animals at all. I only care about if it is what is it said to be.

/M
 
P

paul

Guest
Hello all,

In my whole life I perhaps saw 30 or 40 living adult Cynops cyanurus, and I am sure I never saw a chenggongensis. The photos of Yunnan newts with know origin are only very few.
I can not read the Chinese texts and the English or German are very few. So I don’t know enough about the variability of this species and so I don’t give a judgement.
I discussed the problem of the Chinese Cynops with different international recognized experts. This made me very thoughtful.

It is interesting how different the opinions:
- there are no chenggongensis in China,
- chenggongensis is cyanurus,
- chengongensis is near wolterstorffi,
- chenggongensis is a valid species,
- David Wake wrote me – chengongensis seems to be is nearly sympatric with C. cyanurus chuxiongensis.
- Thorn & Raffaelli, "Les Salamanderes ..." wrote that chuxiongensis is pseudonym to yunnanensis.
......

My conviction – we really know nearly nothing about the Yunnan Cynops.
So it is essential to make genetically analysis from all Chinese Cynops with known locality.
But it is a fine discussion here!

By the way
, if you sponsor my flight to China to collect some Cynops, I am ready go
!

Paul
 
N

nate

Guest
Dr. Yang Yongxia, a professor of Chinese language here at Southwest Missouri State University was kind enough to translate the images and text provided by Tim and Angus:

1.) Angus was correct in his translation from "Atlas of Amphibians of China". There is no mention of the row of spots in that paragraph.

However...

2.) From "Rare and Economic Amphibians of China" (Tims second group of text) we find





which translated reads:

"Along the sides of the body, from shoulder to tail-base, there is a row of orange-yellow spots, sometimes orange-red, the size and number of which vary from 1-10 or more."

Angus, do you agree with this translation?
 
N

nate

Guest
Paul: I don't think it's so confusing, especially in light of the information Zhao has given us through Angus:

"- there are no chenggongensis in China,
- chenggongensis is cyanurus,"

These two are not differing opinions, but rather 2 implications of the same opinion. I might also add they are from a foremost expert on Chinese salamanders and maybe should be given the most consideration?

"- chengongensis is near wolterstorffi"

By this do you mean the two are thought to be related based on morphology? This has already been established with cyanurus and wolterstorffi based on osteology (see Chan et al 2001). Or did you mean geographically?

"- chenggongensis is a valid species"

Who said this?

"- David Wake wrote me – chengongensis seems to be is nearly sympatric with C. cyanurus chuxiongensis."

Understandable, in light of Zhao's comments, because they are the same in his professional opinion. I think this may have just been a casual comment on the geography of the type localities for the two, and not a verification of taxonomic validity.

"- Thorn & Raffaelli, "Les Salamanderes ..." wrote that chuxiongensis is pseudonym to yunnanensis."

That's because of implied synonymy from Zhao and Hu, 1984, Stud. Chinese Tailed Amph., : XXX, and Zhao, Hu, Jiang, and Yang, 1988, Studies on Chinese Salamanders, : 63 who all consider chuxiongensis indistinguishable from yunnanensis and unwarranted.

Now a disclaimer:

Certainly, Angus could very well have a new species, and I think it would be fantastic if he has. I fail to see any evidence that he has found one so far, but it's certainly possible given the situation. They don't fit the description of chenggongensis though, instead they look just like a paler cyanurus...very similar to some of my yunnanensis.

It's a fascinating topic for all of us Cynops enthusiasts (apologies to the rest of the forum for so many posts on the subject), and I think it's a fine discussion to have here as well.

Cheers!
 
J

jesper

Guest
Ah, now this is interesting...
So the Atlas of amphibians of China shows a drawing of a newt with a yellowish dorsolateral lines and do not mention them?
To me that is an indication that the drawing was not made or ordered by them right?
Secondly I think it is extremely arrogant and unscientific to spread an image that does not correlate with the description as they do.
Even more surprising is that Rare and Economic Amphibians of China uses the same drawing together with a different description. This obviously suggests that they have aquired the drawing from someplace else than Atlas of amphibians of China, When are the respective editions printed?
It would be nice if we knew who drew or ordered that drawing....No references I suppose?

Being more of a chemist I am quite surprised that a species can be defined on so loose grounds that there are no photos only drawings(maybe I can make one too?) AND the descriptions are different. I am really surprised that this can be called science. Maybe we should redefine this as science fiction? Give me a photo and a description that is recognized by the bulk of the scientific community preferably together with a genetic test of whatever DNA is used(mitochondrian DNA??) until then there can be no chenggongensis to me at least.
BTW how many of these scientist have actually seen a chenggongensis or even a photo of one?
The ironic part is that many have probably seen different things that they all personally define as chenggongensis....This kind of reminds me of mass UFO sightings, we all saw something - but yet different.
 
R

ralf

Guest
Jesper, whenever a new species is described scientifically, some of these animals are preserved as types together with exact information on location, time and usually circumstances of the finding.
So, in this case one would have to thoroughly look at the preserved types and the accompanying data. Only problem is, that a lot of these preserved specimen are not easily accessible for everybody and even not the whole of the scientific community.
 

TJ

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Jesper, while you're certainly entitled to your opinion, I don't think it promotes a fruitful discussion to call Angus arrogant. Lets be nice


Whether you agree with him or not, Angus obviously has a lot of knowledge about Chinese Cynops and evidently thinks what he has is chengongensis. Since he's not engaged in willful deceit, I think it'd be better to engage him than to push him away


I even had some pics of newts posted on my own site that I had labeled as Paramesotriton deloustali because that it what I think they were based on what I have seen and read. But I am not 100 percent sure, so I have included a (?) mark. Sure, I wasn't selling them, but still, I would think that in the absence of information about rare species, it behooves the buyer to do his/her homework so that he/she can be assured he/she is getting what he/she is paying for, so long as he/she is provided with accurate pics of what he/she (
)is buying. Sellers aren't scientists, after all, and even scientists disagree sometimes.
 
J

jesper

Guest
Hey, I didn't call Angus arrogant!!
I was referring to the Atlas of amphibians of China
and its authors.
When it comes to Angus I think he believes that his photo is of a chenggongensis and his site do not claim to have any scientific value.
 
J

jesper

Guest
BTW somebody know where these preserved chenggongensis specimens are? Some Chinese University I suppose? It should only be an email away or?
 
J

jesper

Guest
Why not take a photo of that preserved specimen?
Why was not a photo taken when they caught these specimens? Isn't there a photo in the original description?
 

TJ

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Jesper, seems I misunderstood you. Sorry about that


I was just flexing my flabby moderator muscles because I don't want to see this important discussion become heated. And especially as I want to see Angus and others in China (HK included) contribute more to this forum into the future.

Proceed!
 
J

jesper

Guest
Hehe, Tim

I couldn't agree more, I'd love to see a higher level of chinese participation in this forum. So many chinese newts, so little info on them.
 
N

nate

Guest
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?

I'm working on getting the original description by Kou and Xing, which should include at least a black and white photo. Gimme time


Who knows why "Atlas" failed to include the row of spots. I know many books on US amphibians often do similar things. I don't think it was a matter of arrogance at all, just an oversight. Tim, you sure you got the whole description scanned?

I can understand now why Angus thought he had chenggongensis based on the "Atlas" info, if that's all he had as a reference. But I think it's pretty clear now that his animals fit the description of nominate cyanurus much more than they fit chenggongensis.
 

TJ

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Yes, that's all that was there except for the distribution map. After all, it's a small book.

I'd sure like to see a translation of that summary of distinguishing characteristics from Economic and Rare Amphibians of China.
 
M

mattias

Guest
In the best of possible worlds, as Candid would have said, zoological scientific work would be conducted in a way Jesper is hoping for.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been the best of possible worlds and we have to deal with confusing statements and lacking descriptions. It’s the same with all old zoological material. Techniques get forward, but original zoological descriptions are often very old. It doesn’t matter if time goes on like in other disciplines, they are still the ORIGINAL description and people will go back to the texts and search for answers that really are not there.

Therefore throughout revisions have to be made with some intervals. Based on new techniques, knowledge and information.

Unfortunately the political and historical reasons is responsible to why Russian, Chinese and Japanese scientific documentation, just to mention some great scientific nations with much to which for in their descriptions, did not live up to the modern high scientific standards of what we now think is necessary until later than the western anglo-saxian-based scientific society.

I think that a sentence, which has been put on paper, should not be weighted with a golden wage for every word unless it was constructed with that much consideration. I really don think the meaning of every single word in those old descriptions is worth that much or printed with so much accuracy.

By the way, is anyone currently working active with DNA-studies on Chinese newts? Is Zhao still active, he ought to be quite old now?

I also want to stress that DNA-analysis isn’t the total evidence one would expect and hope for when it comes to identifying species. It isn’t the "final truth".

Especially when you have a species complex with very shallow phylogeny and speciation occurring at high frequency at short time for example through radiation or because of dispersal into "new" areas. Something that would probably be expected to be the case because of the history of Pleistocene.

Keep up the interesting discussion.

/M
 

TJ

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Jesper, I got my hands dirty and found your preserved "chenggongensis" specimen.

It's specimen #350297 at the Chengdu Institute of Biology. <font color="ff0000">CORRECTED</font>

While you're there, also get us a pic of #350300, which is...wolterstorffi


(Message edited by TJ on September 30, 2004)
 
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