Giant Salamander

Hell’s teeth… what the bejesus… giant salamander you say? Well I never!

...i say could you move your hand old bean...

...i say could you move your hand old bean...

The giant salamanders of Japan and China are just two of some five hundred species of salamander. They are marvellous fellows and are found all over the world, from the tropical rainforests to the Siberian steppe. Indeed the Siberian salamander can survive temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees celsius. They happily snooze away in the ice as their body can produce antifreeze. It is not known how long they can do this for, though it is known they can do it for a long time, it has even been postulated that some of them may have been napping since the Ice Age. Indeed they have been found in ice fourteen metres deep from the Pleistocene era 12,000 years ago… but no one can guarantee that they didn’t just fall down a crack in the ice.

Of course it is not ice that salamanders are usually associated with, it is fire. Leonardo da Vinci, among other bearded types, thought the salamander was born from fire. Naturally there is a reasonable explanation, as these chaps like to hang out in wet logs, piles of firewood included and the poor buggers are simply skedaddling out of the flames.

It is skedaddling that really sets the amphibians apart of course, as it was these chaps ancestors that were the first vertebrates to have a bit of a breather. Moving out of the water needed some big changes, most obviously four legs to skedaddle upon. Secondly they needed to breathe in dry stuff and so developed lungs; little more than a pair of weeny balloons they may be, but they are very good at both breathing in dry air and for disappointing children at fairs with.

Representatives of these ancient colonizers include a giant salamander first brought to the attention of western ‘science’ by a certain Johann Jakob Scheuchzer. The Swiss physician was rather taken by a fossil of them and after careful consideration named it Homo Diluvii Testis (latin: ‘Evidence of a Diluvian Human) as he believed it to be a man who had died in the biblical flood. Presumably later that evening the eminent physician gave particular attention to the anatomical design of his elbow and promptly renamed it his arse.

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Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I own 2 Black and yellow spotted salamanders i am 13

  2. i have a school project. please could you describe the locomotion/movements of the salamander

    • think of them as somewhere between a fish and a four legged animal, their legs kind of stick out and they haul themselves along on their belly, have a look at this page;
      http://birg.epfl.ch/page28707.html
      let me know if i can help more!
      sir p-s x

  3. Salamanders are some of nature’s smiliest creatures. Although I would be disconcerted by the smile of a giant salamander.

  4. aww, he looks downright huggable.

  5. very big

  6. They freak me out somewhat, i must say. X


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