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The Wolterstorff fire-bellied newt

(Cynops wolterstorffi)

The Wolterstorff's fire-bellied newt ( Cynops wolterstorffi ) was first described in 1905 by Belgian zoologist George Albert Boulenger. The species was, at least as far as is known, endemic to Lake Dian Chi in the Chinese province of Yunnan. According to reports, as late as around 1950, thousands of the newts were reported to have stayed among the aquatic plants floating on the surface during the breeding season in April and May. Some adult specimens from museums even have distinct gill tufts and probably lived in a similar way to the axolotl or olm neoten, so they planted themselves

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without going through a metamorphosis. The species has been considered extinct since 1979, but there is a report from a fisherman who claims to have seen one of the newts in 1984. Even if the reasons for the extinction of the species have not been finally clarified, it can be assumed that the pollution of the lake by the nearby city of Kunming in combination with animal species introduced into the lake such as ducks or grass carp and possible loss of habitats led to the extinction of the Wolterstorff fire-bellied newts. Unfortunately, the systematics of the species has not yet been fully clarified, so that the Wolterstorff fire-bellied newt is not necessarily a separate species, but only a particularly large form of the Chinese spotted newt Cynops cyanurus  could act. So it is quite possible that the Wolterstorff fire-bellied newt  Cynops wolterstorffi , the only known extinct salamander that survived in a small form as Cynops cyanurus .

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Cynops wolterstorffi preparation  from the   Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn by

Timon Glaw / EndangeReX.

Many thanks to Wolfgang Böhme for the support!

Article by Timon Glaw

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