G Is for Giant Salamander

The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is the second largest amphibian in the world, outweighed only by its close relative the Chinese giant salamander (A. davidianus), with which species it cross-breeds. Known in Japanese as osanshouo, meaning giant pepper fish, captive specimens reach at least 160 cm in length and weigh 25 kg. In the wild, Japanese giant salamanders populate the forest streams of western Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, a habitat which is shrinking as urbanization progresses. Assessed to be “Near Threatened,” Japanese giant salamanders have been protected in Japan as a Special Natural Monument since 1952 and may no longer be hunted for food. Known as “living fossils” because they existed at least 30 million years ago in the age of the dinosaurs, Japanese giant salamanders live on — in the wild as well as in popular legend and timeless works of fantastic art.


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