Monday, March 31, 2008

Japanese Giant Salamander

The conditions were very bad for taking pictures, but you get a sense of the size from the head in the foreground.

the eyes are specks

I think I first became aware of the Japanese Giant Salamander through the 1983 Guinness Book of World Records. It was, and is, the world's largest amphibian by a huge margin, they max out at just under 5 feet in length. On Saturday, M (he is Japanese but lived in Buffalo for 8 years) and I went to Ueno park in Tokyo to see the cherry blossoms. He informed me that the Ueno Zoo had Giant Salamanders on display, and we both decided it was worth going, despite the fact that it was probably the zoo's busiest day of the year. I was not disappointed. It is one thing to read about a 4' plus salamander, it is quite another to actually see it. It is not so much the length that is shocking but the overall volume and features; the huge mute head, the flaccidly phallic body, the specks for eyes, the wide gummy mouth. You get the feeling that you are looking into the very distant past when large amphibians rule the earth. The idea of stepping on one of these in a mountain stream is horrifying.

This picture comes from here.


Eden said...

That salamander looks like a monster from anime... or maybe I just learned something about life.

Julian Montague said...

My job here is done.