Monday 22 October 2012

A new species of Asian Warty Newt from Guizhou Province, China.

Asian Warty Newts of the genus Paramesotriton are small Salamanders (Urodels) known from China and Southeast Asia. They tend to be dull in colour compared to other Salamanders, typically a uniform grey of brown.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 9 October 2012, a team of scientists led by Xiaoming Gu of the School of Life Sciences at Guizhou Normal University, describe a new species of Asian Warty Newt found in the Maolan National Nature Reserve in Libo County in Guizhou Province, China.

The new species is named Paramesotriton maolanensis, in reference to the reserve where it was found. It is bigger than any previously known member of the genus, with adults ranging from 177 to 208 mm in length, compared to 160 to 200 mm for the next largest species, Paramesotriton deloustali, and 94 to 186 mm for other members of the genus. The species was also found to differ in the structure of its skull and hyloid bone (in the neck), and was genetically distinct from other members of the genus. Paramesotriton maolanensis was also found to have very poorly developed eyes, apparently being at least partially blind; whereas other members of the genus have well developed eyes and good vision.

Paramesotriton maolanensis is brown in colour, with an orange stripe along its back, and mottled red markings on its belly. It has horny protuberances on the back of its skull (a feature seen in some, but not all, other members of the genus), and lacks conspicuous warts. 

Paramesotriton maolanensis, whole body. Gu et al. (2012).

Detail of the heads of Paramesotriton maolanensis (top), Paramesotriton zhijinensis (middle) and Paramesotriton longliensis (bottom). Note the variation in eye-development and wartyness. Gu et al. (2012).

The pool where Paramesotriton maolanensis was found living. Gu et al. (2012).

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