Scientists discover new crocodile newt in Vietnam

Researchers have discovered a new species of Vietnamese salamander that looks like it was birthed in the volcanoes of Mustafar. The coal-black colored new crocodile newt (in the genus Tylototriton) is small, with males measuring 5.4 to 6.8 centimeters (2 to 2.6 inches) and females measuring 7.1 centimeters (2.7 inches) and was determined to be a new species when it showed morphological and genetic differences from near relatives.


Image: Tao Thien Nguyen.

“I was asked by a curator to identify [the new species] and temporarily identified it as Tylototriton vietnamensis (the Vietnamese crocodile newt). However, the morphology was different from the original description of the Vietnamese crocodile newt,” said Kanto Nishikawa with Kyoto University. “Because I have never seen the Vietnamese crocodile newt I could not confirm the specimens in Tokyo are undescribed species. In 2012, I had a chance to visit Vietnam and discussed [the specimen] with co-author, Tao Thien Nguyen, and made a conclusion on its taxonomic status, as new species.”

The scientists named the new species Ziegler’s crocodile newt (Tylototriton ziegleri) after Thomas Ziegler of Cologne Zoo who works with reptiles and amphibians in Vietnam.


Image: Tao Thien Nguyen.


Ziegler’s crocodile newt is currently only known from only a small habitat of montane forest and wetlands.

“Currently, habitat loss and degradation, especially around the breeding ponds, is a major threat to the populations of the new species,” the researchers write in the paper. “Legal protection of their habitats and regulation of excessive commercial collection are important measures for conservation of this species.”

Crocodile newts are popular in the illegal pet trade and are often over-collected from the wild. There are now ten known species, eight of which have been evaluated by the IUCN Red List. Of these eight, three are threatened with extinction, four are listed as Near Threatened, and only one is Least Concern.



Via: Mongabay


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