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Nature. 2005 May 5;435(7038):87-90.

Discovery of the first Asian plethodontid salamander.

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Conservation Genome Resource Bank for Korean Wildlife, and Brain Korea 21, School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.


Nearly 70% of the 535 species of salamanders in the world are members of a single family, the Plethodontidae, or lungless salamanders. The centre of diversity for this clade is North and Middle America, where the vast majority (99%) of species are found. We report the discovery of the first Asian plethodontid salamander, from montane woodlands in southwestern Korea. The new species superficially resembles members of North American genera, in particular the morphologically conservative genus Plethodon. However, phylogenetic analysis of the nuclear encoded gene Rag-1 shows the new taxon to be widely divergent from Plethodon. The new salamander differs osteologically from putative relatives, especially with respect to the tongue (attached protrusible) and the derived tarsus. We place the species in a new genus on the basis of the morphological and molecular data. The distribution of the new salamander adds to the enigma of Old World plethodontids, which are otherwise restricted to the western Mediterranean region, suggesting a more extensive past distribution of the family.

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