Kachin Crocodile Newt; Kachin Yae Poke Thin
Species Description: Zaw T, Lay P, Pawangkhanant P, Gorin VA, Poyarkov Jr NA. 2019 A new species of Crocodile Newt, genus Tylototriton (Amphibia, Caudata, Salamandridae) from the mountains of Kachin State, northern Myanmar. Zoological Research 40: 151-174
A single larval T. kachinorum specimen at larval stage 40 has been described. The snout to vent length is 10.5 mm and the tail length is 9.7 mm. The head is large and trapezoidal in shape, and it has a sloping snout. The nostrils appear at the forward-facing edge of the snout and are small and round. The large, round eyes are located on the sides of the head. The body is highly laterally flattened, and much thinner than the head. The skin is completely smooth. The limbs are thin, and the forelimbs are longer than hind limbs. The forelimbs have 4 well-developed fingers, and the hind limbs have 4 well-developed toes, with a small nub in place of the fifth toe. The tail is nearly as long as the body. The dorsal tail fin originates near the base of the head, while the ventral tail fin originates near the vent. The dorsal tail fin attains its maximum height around the middle of the tail, and the tail tip is sharply pointed. The gills are well-developed and large with distinct fimbriae, and stick up above the rest of the body (Zaw et al. 2019).
There are eight species of Tylototriton in and around Myanmar that are morphologically and phylogenetically similar to the focal species: T. anguliceps, T. himalayanus, T. ngarsuensis, T. podichthys, T. shanjing, T. shanorum, T. uyenoi, and T. verrucosus. Tylototriton kachinorum has weakly distinct rib nodules, while all but T. verrucosus have distinct or very prominent ones. Tylototriton kachinorum differs from T. verrucosus in that its vertebral ridge is continuous and its ground color is brownish while T. verrucosus has a segmented vertebral ridge and a much darker near-black ground color. Tylototriton kachinorum is most morphologically similar to T. himilayanus, its sister species. However T. himilayanus has very distinct lateral grooves on its tail, while T. kachinorum has none whatsoever. Tylotriton kachinorum also has a distinct dark brown coloration with lighter orange-brown and yellow-brown markings which isn’t observed in any other Tylotriton species (Zaw et al. 2019).
In life, T. kachinorum has a fairly uniform dark brown color, which fades into a yellow-brown or orange-brown on the dorsal limb surfaces, paratoids, rib nodules, and vertebral ridge. The ventral side is a dull grayish-yellow color. The rib nodules and the vertebral ridge are yellow-brown to orange-brown. When preserved in ethanol, there was little coloration change besides a gradual desaturation of orange and yellow hues to brownish-grays (Zaw et al. 2019).
Larval T. kachinorum individuals are golden brown in color, and the ventral surface is a pinkish hue. The tail is a dull purple with golden specks, and some dark spots can be seen on the fin and limbs (Zaw et al. 2019).
The nine described adult specimens showed little morphological variation. There is some sexual dimorphism apparent in size, with female specimens being significantly larger and thicker than male specimens. Coloration also varies to a degree, with some specimens appearing lighter or darker overall in comparison to the holotype (Zaw et al. 2019).
Distribution and Habitat
Tylototriton kachinorum specimens were collected in clearings within montane rainforest habitat between the elevations of 900 and 1050 m (Zaw et al. 2019).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Extremely little is known about the natural history of Tylototriton kachinorum. The species may be nocturnal, as all adult animals were found at night. Slow-moving aquatic habitats may be favored: specimens were collected from flooded streams and artificial ponds, though local inhabitants also report seeing individuals on dry land far removed from water sources (Zaw et al. 2019).
Tylototriton kachinorum exhibits complete metamorphosis. Courtship behavior in males has been witnessed in the month of July (Zaw et al. 2019).
Although the clutch size of T. kachinorum eggs is unknown, it’s been observed that the eggs are a cream color with a dark brown animal pole (Zaw et al. 2019).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
The phylogeny of T. kachinorum in relation to all 25 other known members of Tylototriton is based off of Bayesian Inference and Maximum Likelihood analyses conducted on partial fragments of ND2 and 16S rRNA mitochondrial DNA. The resulting phylogeny splits Tylototriton into five clades. The clade containing T. kachinorum is composed of species that are distributed across northern and western mainland Southeast Asia, up through the Himalayas, and reaching Yunnan Province in China. The phylogeny also places T. kachinorum as the sister species to T. himalayanus, which is found in Nepal (Zaw et al. 2019).
The species epithet, “kachinorum,” is a latinized version of the name of the Kachin people who live in the region where the species was first described (Zaw et al. 2019).
Zaw, T., Lay, P., Pawangkhanant, P., Gorin, V.A., Poyarkov, N. A. Jr. (2019). "A new species of Crocodile Newt, genus Tylototriton (Amphibia, Caudata, Salamandridae) from the mountains of Kachin State, northern Myanmar." Zoological Research, 40(3), 151-174.
Originally submitted by: Kannon Pearson (2021-10-07)
Description by: Kannon Pearson (updated 2021-10-07)
Distribution by: Kannon Pearson (updated 2021-10-07)
Life history by: Kannon Pearson (updated 2021-10-07)
Trends and threats by: Kannon Pearson (updated 2021-10-07)
Comments by: Kannon Pearson (updated 2021-10-07)
Edited by: Ash Reining (2021-10-07)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Tylototriton kachinorum: Kachin Crocodile Newt; Kachin Yae Poke Thin <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/8998> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 28, 2021.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 28 Oct 2021.
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