200-Year-Old Chinese Giant Salamander in Cave Near Chongqing, China

by DerdriuMarriner

China News Network announces a fisherman’s discovery of a 200-year-old Chinese giant salamander in a cave outside the town of Chongqing, southwest China.

A 200-year-old Chinese giant salamander acquires titles of eldest living amphibian and salamander as one of the oldest living animals, according to announcements by China News Network Friday, December 11, 2015.

The announcement brings to worldwide attention a critically endangered amphibian naturalized by deliberate introductions into Taiwan from native distribution ranges in central, south, and southwest China. Scientists consider the Chinese giant salamander as old in captivity at the age of 55 years and in the wild at the age of 80 years. China News Network describes the 200-year-old Chinese giant salamander as ill and of poor health from advanced age and from injury at the time of discovery.

The injuries ensue from being stepped on.

Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus) is world's largest living amphibian, with average adult lengths of 3.77 feet (1.15 meters) and to weight ranges of 55 to 66 pounds (25 to 30 kilograms).

Shanghai Aquarium
Shanghai Aquarium

Chinese giant salamanders are the world's largest salamanders


Caves near the lakes and the streams in the rocky mountain terrain of central, south, and southwest China furnish habitat niches for the Chinese giant salamander.

Scientists give as the discovery site for the world’s oldest Chinese giant salamander a flood in a cave outside the town of Chongqing in southwest China. Wang Yong, a local fisherman, has credit for the discovery while checking the something “soft and slimy” that he stepped on after going inside the cave. Wang Yong also is credited with acting upon the Chinese giant salamander’s physical distress by contacting experts about transport to a specialized care and research facility.

One-hundred-seventy-million-year-old Cryptobranchidae (gill-hiding) family lineages justify the Chinese giant salamander’s nickname “living fossil.” 


fossil of Chinese Giant Salamander's lookalike, extinct Andrias scheuchzeri:

Andrias scheuchzeri is known only from fossils which date the giant salamander to Oligocene (about 33.9 million to 23 million years BP [before present]) and Pliocene (about 5.333 million to 2.58 million years BP).
Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe (State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe), Baden-Württemberg, sw Germany
Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe (State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe), Baden-Württemberg, sw Germany

Chinese giant salamanders look like extinct Andrias scheuchzeri


Mountain-dwellers know of the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus, Père Armand David’s image of man) as wa wa yu (“baby fish”) because of crying child-like vocalizations.

Scientists also list barking and hissing sounds among the repertory of vocalizations by the night-active, poor-sighted, slow-moving predator of crabs, fish, insects, other amphibians, and shrimps. Adult Chinese giant salamanders mature to average lengths of 3.77 feet (1.15 meters) and to weight ranges of 55 to 66 pounds (25 to 30 kilograms). Adult males need to guard 400- to 500-egg deposits dug into underwater cavities and hatched 50 to 60 days after mating seasons between July and September.

Tube-riddled sides for detecting water-transmitted vibrations offer the salamander defensive and predatory advantages.


Chinese Giant Salamanders are considered culinary delicacies:

two Andrias davidianus in restaurant in east central coastal province of Zhejiang.
Wenzhou, southeastern Zhejiang province, east central coastal China
Wenzhou, southeastern Zhejiang province, east central coastal China

Chinese giant salamanders welcome protection from habitat-changing agro-industrialists


Little prevents agro-industrialists from clearing, fragmenting, and reconfiguring Chinese giant salamander habitat and hunters from supplying salamander parts for culinary delicacies, traditional medicines, and trophy collections.

Population declines by more than 80 percent since the 1970s qualify Chinese giant salamanders for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s critically endangered red list. They also result in getting Chinese giant salamanders included on the EDGE Project’s list of 10 focal evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species as of 2008. Wang Yong’s four-foot-seven-inch (1.22-meter), 104-pound (47.17-kilogram) salamander’s advanced age and declining health suggest conflicting ecosystem assessments since amphibians are keystone obligates of environmental degradation or sustainability.

Attention currently turns to saving one particularly aged, ailing Chinese giant cave salamander. 


200-year-old Giant salamander found alive in China

Published on YouTube on December 15, 2015 by Sploid ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCMZGPcRSOQ



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Extant Chinese Giant Salamander and extinct Andrias scheuchzeri are considered as lookalikes and sometimes as synonymous.

restoration of Andrias scheuchzeri
restoration of Andrias scheuchzeri

Sources Consulted


Admin. 7 October 2013. “Chinese Giant Salamander.” The Daily Weird > Pics.

  • Available @ http://www.thedailyweird.com/pics/chinese-giant-salamander/

Čapek, Karel. 1990. War with the Newts. A New Translation from the Czech Válka s mloky by Ewald Osers. North Haven, CT: Catbird Press. 

“Chinese Giant Salamander.” Earlham College > Biology Department > Biology 226 > Biological Diversity 2006.

  • Available @ http://legacy.earlham.edu/~pendemi/giantsalamander.htm

“Chinese Giant Salamander.” Edge of Existence > Conservation > Focal Species.

  • Available @ http://www.edgeofexistence.org/amphibian_conservation/chinese_giant_salamander.php

Cox Media Group National Content Desk. 16 December 2015. “Giant Salamander Found Alive in China.” AJC > News.

  • Available @ http://www.ajc.com/news/news/science/giant-salamander-found-alive-china/npkdj/

d’Estries, Michael. 15 December 2015. “Giant Salamander Discovered in Cave May be 200 Years Old.” Mother Nature Network > Earth Matters > Animals.

  • Available @ http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/giant-salamander-discovered-cave-may-be-200-years-old

Hong, Jennifer. 18 December 2015. “Giant Salamander China Cave: Chinese Fishermen Step on Large Amphibian in Water.” NewsOXY  > Science.

  • Available @ http://www.newsoxy.com/science/giant-salamander-china-cave-59-187290.html

Latt, Pinky. 14 December 2015. “LOOK: Human-Sized Chinese Giant Salamander Collected from Cave Outside of Chongqing.” Shanghaiist > News.

  • Available @ http://shanghaiist.com/2015/12/14/giantest_chinese_giant_salamander.php

Mosbergen, Dominique. 16 December 2015. “200-Year-Old Giant Salamander Found in Chinese Cave: Reports.” The Huffington Post > Edition: U.S.

  • Available @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/200-year-old-salamander-china_567129ece4b0648fe30192cb

People’s Daily Online.

  • Available @ http://fj.people.com.cn/n/2015/1211/c350395-27299369.html

“Rare Giant Salamander Found in Cave in China.” Discovery > News > December 15, 2015.

  • Available @ http://news.discovery.com/animals/endangered-species/rare-giant-salamander-found-in-cave-in-china-151215.htm

Seaburn, Paul. 13 December 2015. “200-Year-Old Monster Found in Chinese Cave.” Mysterious Universe.

  • Available @ http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/12/200-year-old-monster-found-in-chinese-cave/


The Chinese Giant Salamander usually has a sit-and-wait strategy for attacking prey which approach face-to-face:

the world's largest living amphibian, however, also engages in sideways attacks by biting with one side of its mouth.
closeup of head of Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus)
closeup of head of Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus)
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

925 Sterling Silver Salamander Lizard Pendant by So Chic Jewels ~ Available now via Amazon

Satin pouch included with salamander pendant. Dimensions: 65 x 20 mm (2.5 x 0.787 inches) ~ Nickel free.
salamander products

War with the Newts by Karel Capek ~ Available now via Amazon

Published in Czech in Prague in 1936 and in English translation in London in 1937, War with the Newts concerns fictional descendants of Andrias scheuchzeri.
salamanders in fiction

Chinese Giant Salamander Swimming: photo by Ken Lucas ~ Available as Photographic Print and as Premium Photographic Print ~ Available now via AllPosters

Chinese Giant Salamander Swimming

Photo Jigsaw Puzzle of Chinese Giant Salamander swimming: photo by Ken Lucas/Ardea Wildlife Pets ~ Available now via Amazon

10x14 with 252 pieces. Designer box, 5 5/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 1/5, with artwork affixed to box top
Chinese Giant Salamander products

Giant Salamander Andrias Davidianus peel-and-stick vinyl wall decal by Wallmonkeys Wall Decals ~ Available now via Amazon

decal size: 24 inches W x 20 inches H
Chinese Giant Salamander products

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/16/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 08/14/2017

Margielynn, It's unfortunate that the giant salamander's discoverer, fisherman Wang Yong, stepped on his discovery. It's fortunate for him that the discovery was neither dangerous nor vindictive and that he brought the specimen to the attention of those who could alleviate the giant salamander's pain, prolong its life and share its existence with the world.

Guest on 08/14/2017

DerdriuMarriner What an amazing article, enjoyed reading and learning!

DerdriuMarriner on 01/20/2016

Tolovaj, A meeting with a Chinese giant salamander definitely qualifies as an encounter of the unforgettable kind!
It's nice to know that you're already familiar with Karel Capek, whose writings delight the imagination and stand the test of time.

Tolovaj on 01/20/2016

Wow! I suppose a close encounter with one of these creatures burns into your memory forever. I remember reading Capek's book, mentioned above, and it was delightful - loaded with action and humor. I cordially recommend it:)

DerdriuMarriner on 01/12/2016

frankbeswick, Yes, with the growth particularly being focused on regeneration of completely or partly damaged or missing parts.

DerdriuMarriner on 01/12/2016

Mira, Yes, that's amazing, and it's also true about the Eastern box turtles in my back yard! ;-)

frankbeswick on 01/12/2016

If salamanders have ring like growth patterns in their bones, does their size continually increase with age as new rings are added?

Mira on 01/12/2016

They do? Wow, how amazing!

DerdriuMarriner on 01/11/2016

Mira, Nobody is explaining how the age was arrived at, although salamanders have tree-ringlike growth rings in their bones. Thank you for the welcome back!

Mira on 01/08/2016

I was going to ask the same question :) Welcome back, Derdriu!

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