Pachytriton brevipes?

Neotenic_Jaymes

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I'm tired of wondering what species of Pachytriton I have other than labiatus. I have 1.2 P. labiatus and 1.1 mystery Pachytriton species. The mystery species is heavily spotted and lighter in color than the labiatus. I've been to the Caudata Culture care sheet for pachytriton many times and still can't make a decision on what species they are. People have told me if they're heavily spotted and lighter in color they're most likely brevipes. What do you guys think?

I threw in a couple shots of my labiatus for comparison.
 

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dragonlady

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According to some pics I have seen, I am in agreement with you. Truly beautiful animals! :D
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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DragonLady you agree that I am confused? HA! I am determined to know what species they are. If I never find out I'll still love them. Maybe a couple more pictures of these lovely guys will help someone notice the species. I'm thinking that It could also be species other that brevipes or labiatus.

Here is a picture of one of them eating its own shed and tail fanning.
 

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dragonlady

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lol!! I guess I'm confused too! I am no expert in this area at all but according to pics I have seen in my "travels" across the web, these do look to be p. brevipes. I do love the coloring on them, thanks posting more pics! :D
 

Yahilles

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I think they're not P. brevipes - i'm saying that by looking at this lighter vertebal stripe, which is absent on any other brevipes photo i've ever seen. Your Pachytriton seems to be same species of one i had, but my animal was getting tha light colouration only during the night. And it's probably undescribed type - they doesn't fit for descriptions of A or B phenotypes.



That black newt looks gorgeous!
 

Azhael

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I don´t think those are P.brevipes, either.
I would consider them one of the undescribed types. Pachytriton is such a mess that giving an exact identification is almost impossible.

Hopefully we´ll see a revised taxonomy for asiatic species soon (please please please....).
 

Yahilles

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hopefully we´ll see a revised taxonomy for asiatic species soon (please please please....).
I want new pachytriton species!
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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Thanks for all the critiques. I didn't think they were brevipes either. Close enough though. I would also like to add that they are significantly smaller in size than my labiatus. My P. labaitus range from 6-7 inches and the unidentified Pachytritons are about 4-5 inches. It seems like they haven't grown much and might not grow anymore. Anyways thanks guys and thanks for sharing photos and information guys.
 

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There are four definite species of Pachytriton. All are named, and they cannot be reliably distinguished by color. The animals in this thread, and most of those in the pet trade for a number of years, and virtually anything labeled as "P.labiatus" are Pachytriton granulosus. The type locality of this species is south of Shanghai, where a distinctly slender torrent newt occurs as well as the two other common newts in the pet trade: Hypselotriton orientalis and Paramesotriton chinensis. This species is most closely related to P.brevipes [NOT P.labiatus] and possesses all color variations known in the genus. P.labiatus is brown and robust, with a broad head, and with or without red striping. P.brevipes is tan with black spots, with or without red striping. P.archospotus is tan with black spots and unique skeletal features. Both P.labiatus and P.granulosus may consist of multiple sibling species, but there isn't enough data to determine that yet.

The original description of P.granulosus clearly refers to a Pachytriton. The redescription of Pingia granulosa is either a new species of Hypselotriton or a juvenile [yet again!] of Pachytriton. Either way, the description of P.granulosa is a torrent newt, and slender torrent newts currently occur at that locality and match the description.

This final [?] shuffle of the torrent newts has not yet been made formally, although all the information to do so has been published [redescription of Pingia, rejection of status of Pingia, variation and species limits in Pachytriton].

Homoplastic evolution of external colouration in Asian stout​
newts (Pachytriton) inferred from molecular phylogeny

Pachytriton archospotus sp. nov.

Morphological Variation in Pachytriton labiatus and a
Re-assessment of the Taxonomic Status of P. granulosus
(Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae)
 

Azhael

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You are saying all P.labiatus in the trade and in captivity are P.granulosus??
Though you have automatically caught my attention i find such an affirmation hard to make.
P.granulosus has been very badly described in the past, and since nothing is official yet i fear, the genus Pachytriton still needs a lot of work.
It seems highly irregular than one of the species in the genus, could display the colorations of all the other species. I would suspect such a thing points in the direction of intergrades. And yet, there should be recognizable morphological differences, subtle as they might be.

Your posts was most informative. If you could elaborate on the differences betwen P.labiatus and P.granulosus, you´d make me happy xD
 

froggy

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This is very interesting, Frogeyes. Could you post some of the references for papers most relevant to this issue?

Chris
 

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It would be very interesting to know the paper in which says that Pingia granulosa is a Pachytriton because as far as I know there are only three described and valid Pachytriton-species (Look here - it's in German but it's just a summary of this famous paper).

Furthermor It's very interesting to see that some people seem to keep the same form of Pachytriton as I do. I got my newt in 2004 and was more or less a necessary buy because the shop where I bought the newt kept seven of them in a small aquaria together with Typhlonectes and Xenopus. They were sold as "Pond-Newts" for the garden...
So this is mine Pachytriton and if you compare the pics to those of the first post of this thread, you will see that they are very similiar. Maybe they are from the same collection site...



Kind regards,

Marcus
 

Yahilles

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It's definetely some not-rare species as i see they're being kept by people in Europe and America, they seem to have certain characteristics in common, such as black spots and inequal orange lateral stripe + light brown basis with tiny white spots, although the newt i kept had different belly pattern than animals pictured by Jaymes:


I'm wondering why they weren't considered as a phenotype by dr Thiesmeier in his research about Pachytriton. Maybe it was before the type we're talking about started to get imported?
I've seen photo of Pachytriton of this type with eggs in captivity on some french caudate portal.
Have anyone spotted tail sheens (or in this case, tail spots) on males? My animal had only little lighter patch at the end of the tail, which became slightly more visible in the winter, still hard to notice.
 

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The principle problem with Pachytriton taxonomy historically, has been the assumption that color and pattern were reliable means of distinguishing taxa. As is often the case, that's false. It has been known for a couple of decades that the genus occurs in separate pockets, most notably P.labiatus in the southwest, “P.labiatus” in the northeast, and P.brevipes in the middle. The discovery of P.archospotus effectively split the range of P.brevipes in two.

A recent study of color and genetic variation from throughout the range of Pachytriton identified three major genetic groups, each being limited to one geographic region. Both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA was used, thus making it possible to identify cases of hybridization.

Clade A

In the southwest was the most genetical different population, the one which owns the name P.labiatus. This is a population of robust brown animals which sometimes have red lines. Nothing else can be called P.labiatus, since all other populations are more closely related to P.brevipes, and P.brevipes is the oldest name.

Clade B

In the inland center (Hunan) is the second most distinct group, corresponding in color, distribution, and anatomy to P.archospotus. This species has straight epibranchial bones and is brown with black spots. Other differences from the other species are more subtle, and the species description did not distinguish between the two distinct forms being called P.labiatus when making comparisons.

Clade C

The third genetic group consists of the eastern populations, including both typical P.brevipes and the slender animals commonly called P.labiatus and sold in the pet trade. There are several distinct subgroups, one of which corresponds to black-spotted tan P.brevipes, with or without red stripes (Mt. Junfeng, Mt. Wuyi). Specimens from Mt. Daiyun are geographically and morphologically grouped with P.brevipes, and are tan, but they are distinctive genetically. Mitochondrially, they are unique, but group with “P.labiatus”. Nuclear DNA is even more distinct, setting them apart from both populations. Remaining populations are slender animals predominantly from Zhejiang, and they group together in morphology, geography, mtDNA, and nuDNA. However, they include all color forms. These animals dominate the pet trade within China and internationally (collected from Hangzhou and Chengdu).

The status of P.granulosus

The problems with P.granulosus are these:
1) The type description was based on immature specimens, which thus do not show typical adult morphology.
2) The type specimens are lost.
3) A neotype was designated from the type vicinity, but this ALSO appears to be immature, and was furthermore not available for genetic testing.

Regardless of these issues, the name Pachytriton was validly proposed, and assigned to animals which were a) described, b) illustrated, c) from a specific locality, and d) from a locality where similar animals still occur. The type locality of P.granulosus is Jietouzhen, Tiantai City, Zhejiang. This is within the range of the slender pet trade animals of clade C and thus corresponds to the “unnamed” forms commonly confused with P.labiatus. Examination of Hypselotriton orientalis, Pachytriton brevipes, Pachytriton “labiatus” of all ages from Anhui and Zhejiang, and Paramesotriton chinensis, shows that the new specimens of “Pingia granulosa” correspond to juvenile Pachytriton, as does Chang's original description. The appropriate name for Zhejiang slender Pachytriton is P.granulosus. This is not affected by the need to examine the neotype of “Pingia granulosa”, although a NEW neotype would need to be designated if the former proves to be a valid species of Hypselotriton [which would then need to be re-described with a new name].

There is no evidence of microsympatry, and little evidence of interbreeding or introgression in any Pachytriton. At least not recently - The Mt. Daiyun specimens show different relationships acording to mtDNA than according to nuDNA. However, both DNA sets are distinctive. I would interpret this as a sign of ancient hybridization followed by independent evolution. The current isolation from P.granulosus populations would seem to prevent any continued introgression. Although otherwise included by morphology and geography with P.brevipes, I suspect that this population probably represents an unnamed species.

Mt. Dapan P.granulosus and Mt. Wuyi P.brevipes are relatively close geographically to one another. Mt. Dapan specimens are P.granulosus in morphology, distribution, and mtDNA, but are closer to Mt. Wuyi P.brevipes in nuDNA. Mt. Wuyi specimens are P.brevipes in all traits, but one specimen groups with P.granulosus by nuDNA. I would interpet this as indicating a narrow hybrid zone along the boundaries of the two species, though seemingly a rare occurence. This would require more genetic markers and a more extensive survey in southern Zhejiang and northern Fujian to determine better.

Variation

Overlap in coloration is believed due to a shared ancestral coloration (brown). The P.brevipes/P.archospotus line evolved a tan color, which has since been lost by P.granulosus. This is consistent with epibranchials being ancestrally straight in Asiatic newts, curved in Pachytriton, but reverting to being straight in P.archospotus. The hypothesis of intergrades has been safely rejected, as all variation is confined to populations which are genetically and geographically distinct. Where there is evidence of introgression, populations are consistent in color and morphology with the overall species [Mt. Wuyi are tan, Mt. Dapan are brown, Mt. Daiyun are tan; all variation can be found in unequivocal P.granulosus populations].

The phenotypes recognized in the pet trade over the years are mainly age-related. Small and young specimens tend to have bold ventral colors, which fades and blurs with age. All four of the main color themes can be found in the small areas of Zhejiang and Chengdu southwest of Shanghai, which supply the pet trade and are P.granulosus. Occasional specimens of P.brevipes may also reach the trade from nearby areas. Most pet trade newts seem to originate in this area, which drastically reduces the number of species available recently. The only other phenotypes have been determined to likely be Paramesotriton ermizhaoi and possibly another Paramesotriton. The latter are in a jar here somewhere, pending shipping off for testing.

In short, there are few reliable ways of identifying pet torrent newts. The main method is circumstancial - if most specimens are slender and brown, then likely all are P.granulosus, regardless of color. If H.orientalis and P.chinensis are also commonly available in the trade in your area, then it is likely that one supplier is involved, using a source in Shanghai that also supplies P.granulosus from the same region. P.archospotus could be identified by x-ray. P.brevipes could possibly be identified by careful measurements, with x-rays to rule out P.archospotus. P.labiatus could probably be identified by careful measurements.

Sources

Nishikawa, K., Jiang, J.-P., Matsui, M., & Chen, C.-S. (2009). Morphological variation in Pachytriton labiatus and a re-assessment of the taxonomic status of P. granulosus (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae). Current Herpetology 28(2): 49–64

Wu, Y., Wang, Y., Jiang, K., Chen, X. & Hanken, J. (2010). Homoplastic evolution of
external colouration in Asian stout newts (Pachytriton) inferred from molecular phylogeny. Zoologica Scripta 39: 9–22.
 
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froggy

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Thanks very much for taking the time to write this. It is very useful information, and interesting to read.

Chris
 

Yahilles

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So i understand, that animals of the type i, Marcus and Jaymes keep, may be called Pachytriton granulosus now?
 

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I use, and advocate the use of, Pachytriton granulosus for those animals, yes. James' darker animals I'm not sure about - they could be P.brevipes, but I can't make any judgement of body proportions from the two photos.

Mostly it comes down to the status of Pingia granulosa. When I first saw pictures of the latter, it was made clear that they were NOT Pachytriton. However, that was based on photos, and prior to the publication refuting status as a distinct genus. I am convinced by the latter, though whether those who provided the photos are convinced remains to be seen.

The other issue is to sort out the P.brevipes/P.granulosus complex. Based solely on the two papers I have cited already, I think it's clear and certain that both P.brevipes and P.granulosus are valid species, and most animals in the trade are the latter. It is likely that there is at least one more unnamed species confused with P.brevipes, and potentially more than one confused with P.granulosus. Determining these issues will require more data and more samples from throughout Anhui, Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Guangzhou. I suspect that this issue is being worked on by the Hanken lab, given that Yunke Wu has been lead author on this study of Pachytriton variation, and the descriptions of Paramesotriton yunwuensis, Hypselotriton fudingensis, and Paramesotriton ermizhaoi [formerly confused with Pachytriton].
 

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Nice picture Marcus! Your newt has very much the same physical appearance as mine. Thank you, everyone for sharing information. Everyone has been very informative and I respect all statements made. Frogeyes I thank you with emphasis, what a great share.
 

richard kingham

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Interesting thread on Pachytriton brevipes. l go back a fair while,and in all of those years l have never seen this species in the trade here in London, that's not to say it's not been offered elsewhere in the country. Most of the animals l have seen or kept have been what l believed to be Pachytriton labiatus or P.labiatus like. Some of these were robust animals with a dark almost black dorsum,or a very dark brown and both without markings,others were more slender and with red dorsalateral dots and lines. Very attractive animals. The ventral patterns vary too,some with red patches or vermiculations well defined, while others had paler flesh coloured undersides and less defined orange/red . Pachytriton B was quite a robust newt,patchy brown above and a flesh colour with yellow/orange below. Pachytriton C I have also kept and this form to me was perhaps the most distinct. l understand that this form has now been assigned to Paramesotriton. Thankyou FrogEyes for all the infomation about this group of newts,it's been most helpful to us.
 
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