Smithsonian National Zoo Opens Giant Salamander Breeding Center
That's right. Five-foot long Japanese salamanders, getting it on outside of Japan for the first time in 100 years. AND, they're seemingly immune to a fungus that's killing off lesser amphibian species, and thus could hold a key to the survival of animals around the globe.
Times like this, I don't regret being on press release lists.
Also, in poking around Wikipedia a bit, I stumbled on this great story about the discovery of a fossil giant salamander:
In 1726, the Swiss physician Johann Jakob Scheuchzer described a fossil as Homo diluvii testis (Latin "man witness of Deluge"), believing it to be the remains of a human being that drowned in the biblical Deluge. The Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands bought the fossil in 1802, where it still is being exhibited. In 1812, the fossil was examined by Georges Cuvier, who recognized it as not being human.[Emphasis mine.] After being recognized as a salamander, it was renamed Salamandra scheuchzeri by Holl in 1831.
Image actually depicts a Chinese Giant Salamander, rather than the Japanese variety, simply because I liked its face. Image via Cryptomundo blog.