Rare salamander found in Asia
The animal is a lungless salamander of the Plethodontidae family and was discovered in S Korea.Updated: May 04, 2005 23:17 IST
A type of lungless salamander thought to be confined to the Americas and parts of Italy and Sardinia has been found in Asia, the British magazine Nature reports.
The startling discovery has been likened to finding a panda in California or a kangaroo in Argentina.
The animal is a lungless salamander of the Plethodontidae family and was discovered in South Korea by a team of US and Korean zoologists. Superficially similar to an American cousin, it has been named Karsenia Koreana after its discoverer, Stephen Karsen of Illinois who teaches in South Korea.
It is 40 mm (1.6 inches) long, black with a dark red or yellow stripe on its back and belongs to the family of lungless salamanders that breathe through their moist skins and make up 70 per cent of the total of 535 salamander species.
The find suggests that lungless salamanders are more widely distributed than previously believed and 60 million to 100 million years ago may have had a worldwide presence.
"It is really huge," according to Robert Kaplan, a professor of biology at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, who is an expert on frogs and salamanders.
"The closest relative to the critter they are reporting for the first time is probably here in the Pacific northwest. So, you have a major biogeographical question. How in the world could it have gotten there?"
The Korean salamander, whose common name is the Korean crevice salamander, was first identified in South Korea in 2003 and has since been seen in 16 locations in three provinces.
First Published: May 04, 2005 19:11 IST