Giant Salamanders are a family of fully aquatic salamanders, scientifically called Cryptobranchidae.
They are the largest living amphibians and are found in China, Japan, and the eastern United States.
The two main types of Giant Salamanders are the Asian Giant Salamanders and the American Hellbender.
How Big Can Giant Salamanders Get?
The South China Giant Salamander, which belongs to the genus Andrias, can reach a length of 1.8 meters (5.9 feet).
The Japanese Giant Salamander can grow up to 1.44 meters (4.7 feet) in length.
How Do Giant Salamanders Breathe?
Giant Salamanders absorb oxygen through capillaries in their side frills, which function as gills.
These side frills help increase their surface area, allowing them to absorb more oxygen from the water.
What Is the Taxonomy of Giant Salamanders?
There are two main genera of Giant Salamanders: Cryptobranchus and Andrias.
Cryptobranchus includes the Hellbender, which is found in the eastern United States.
Andrias is the genus of Asian Giant Salamanders, which includes the Chinese, South China, Japanese, and Jiangxi Giant Salamanders.
What Does the Fossil Record of Giant Salamanders Show?
The fossil record of Giant Salamanders shows that they have been around for tens of millions of years.
The oldest known fossils date back to the Middle Jurassic period in China.
The family is believed to have originated in Asia and migrated to the eastern United States via a land bridge.
What Do Giant Salamanders Look Like?
Giant Salamanders have a stout body with large folds of skin along their flanks, a heavy and laterally compressed tail, and bad eyesight.
They also have paedomorphic traits, which means they retain gill slits and lack eyelids as adults.
What Is the Distribution and Habitat of Giant Salamanders?
Giant Salamanders are found in China, Japan, and the eastern United States.
In Japan, their natural habitats are threatened by dam-building, so ramps and staircases have been added to some dams to help them move upstream to spawn.
How Do Giant Salamanders Behave?
Giant Salamanders are mostly nocturnal animals.
They have a long lifespan, with a record of a Japanese Giant Salamander living for 52 years in captivity.
What Do Giant Salamanders Eat?
Giant Salamanders eat aquatic insects, fish, frogs, crabs, and shrimp.
They hunt mainly at night and use sensory nodes on their heads and bodies to detect changes in water pressure to find their prey.
How Do Giant Salamanders Reproduce?
During mating season, Giant Salamanders travel upstream, where the female lays over 200 eggs.
The male fertilizes the eggs externally and then guards them for at least three months.
After they hatch, the larvae live off their stored fat and eventually hunt as a group.