From Cynops to Hypselotriton - when did this happen?


Site Contributor
Sep 25, 2004
Reaction score
West Jordan UT
United States
Display Name
Heather Jewett
So I realize I have not been super present on the forum for a while, but I am trying to get back in to the community. Being back I have noticed a name change from Cynops to Hypselotriton but my site search was not productive in finding me any more information about this. Can someone fill me in? Like is there no more Cynops genus, or did the name change create a new genus and leave some species in the Cynops genus?
Sorry for my ignorance! Thanks for any info!
The change is basically that japanese Cynops and chinese Cynops represented clearly defined and separate groups. The genus Cynops included them all because of a current among taxonomists that tended to make "clusters" agrupating lots of species into large single genera. It all had to do with a different perception of the concept of species and it was all very complicated, hehe (they went so far as to consider them all Triturus at some points). However, in recent years, Cynops wolterstoffi was separated to Hypselotriton wolterstorffi and since the difference between chinese and japanese "Cynops" has been clearly confirmed by genetics, we have reverted to separating them into different genera and placing all chinese species under Hypselotriton. This splitting of old clusters has happened all across the herpetological world and is the main source of taxonomic changes in the last decade.
Anyway, the thing is that japanese Cynops are now considered the "true" Cynops, and chinese species have been separated into a different genus, which for the time being is Hypselotriton. It has to be noted, though, that the chinese species probably represent at least two different genera themselves, the "wolstertorffi group", represented by H.cyanurus, H.chenggongensis and H.wolsterstorffi, and the "orphicus group", represented by H.orphicus, H.granulosus and H.orientalis. The latter is currently classified as subgenus Pingia but is not clear if that would become the generic name if the two groups are split in the future. Or at least that´s my understanding.

I´ll leave you with this link where you will find a much better explanation of what i just said xD:

Also make sure to check FrogEyes´s posts, he explains it brilliantly.
Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks so much for the info, Azhael. The clarification and link are appreciated!
The above is largely correct, but requires some fixing...and then I will add to the discussion:

The lowland Chinese species are H.fudingensis, H.orientalis, and H.orphicus.

The name Pingia granulosa is based on juvenile specimens of Pachytriton granulosus, so neither "Pingia" nor "granulosa" can be used for fire-bellied newts. The original illustration of Pingia was obviously a Pachytriton, and the so-called rediscovered animals have rather definitively been shown to be the same [although the study actually used animals now named Pachytriton feii, which is very similar].

Among the factors involved in the splitting of Hypselotriton from Cynops, is an uncertainty that the two groups are actually related to one another. Some evidence indicates that the Japanese species are closer to Paramesotriton than to the Chinese species. Other evidence combines Cynops and Hypselotriton, but the evidence isn't strong. Since scientific names are intended to reflect biological relationships, it makes more sense to have different names for groups which may or may not be related, than to combine them into a single name which falsely suggests a close relationship. IE, if both are real groups, theres nothing wrong with separate names. If they also form a single group together, either two or one name will do. The only unacceptable option is to use one name for two unrelated groups, which means splitting is overall the safest choice. A division into three genera, based on physical features, was suggested but not actually proposed, several decades ago. The reason for the split is actually identical to the reason for splitting Laotriton from Paramesotriton, which had also been suggested earlier, and formally proposed by Dubois and Raffaelli.

The name Hypselotriton was originally coined for C.wolterstorffi alone, based in part on its neotenic characters. This is the oldest name used only for any newt related to C.wolterstorffi, and thus is the name which must be used if needed. Which means the genus isn't defined in the original manner, although it is still based on the same original species and expanded to include others. Dubois and Raffaelli formally made the change in their 2008 paper revising Salamandridae, and the change has also been adopted in Frosts's Amphibian Species of the World. I started using Hypselotriton many years ago, and it was included in my master list of salamanders [which I sent Jean long ago].

This was discussed elsewhere in these threads, though you'd have to search for posts containing those names. I don't believe I brought it up in a separate thread, unless it was a thread on Pachytriton.
Thank you for the correction! The "H.granulosus" was a brain fart xD
I mentioned Pingia as suggested in the link, a subgenus, thanks for clarifying that it is not an apropriate name.
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    sera: @Clareclare, +2