Cryptobranchidae – Giant salamanders

Nearly 1.8 m (6 ft) in length and living up 60 years, these “living fossils” are the largest of the amphibians

A remarkable yet diminutive family of colossal aquatic salamanders resides in Asia and North America. This extraordinary family comprises two genera: Andrias, which thrives in the landscapes of Japan and China, and Cryptobranchus, which calls the eastern United States home. The giant salamanders, these perplexing giants of the amphibian world, reign supreme as the largest amphibians on the planet.

Their appearance is nothing short of distinctive, marked by a broad head, minuscule eyes, and a body that seems almost flattened, reflecting their adapted aquatic lifestyle. As carnivorous behemoths of the water, giant salamanders emerge under the cloak of night to hunt for their sustenance, targeting a menu that includes fish, crayfish, and various aquatic creatures. Their elusive nature and considerable size have shrouded much of their behavior and ecological nuances in mystery, leaving a wealth of untold stories beneath the surface.

Despite their grandeur, some species within this family teeter on the brink of endangerment. The encroachment of habitat destruction, pollution, and various human activities pose significant threats to these magnificent giants.