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Chunerpeton tianyiensis

Chunerpeton is the earliest known crown salamander (Urodela). It belongs to the family Cryptobranchidae that includes the modern Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias) and the North American hellbender (Cryptobranchus). It was a neotenic form, retaining several juvenile features in adulthood such as the external gills (known from soft tissue impressions in the fossil).


Chunerpeton tianyiensis


Gao and Chubin, 2003

Meaning of the generic name

Chu (Pinyin)meaning early and herpeton (Greek)meaning
creeping animal
 Meaning of the specific name

 tianyi, ancient country name for Ningcheng


Skull length: 2 cm, Length: 18 cm


Holotype (CAGS-IG-02051): natural molds of an articulated skeleton.
Referred materials: PKUP V0210-0212 (natural molds)

Age and Distribution

Horizon: Middle Jurassic Jiulongshan Formation (Bathonian).
Locality: Daohugou, Ningcheng County, Inner Mongolia, China


Lissamphibia Caudata Urodela Cryptobranchoidea Cryptobranchidae

  Further Reading

  Gao, K. Q., and Shubin, N. H., 2003. Earliest known crown-group salamanders: Nature, v. 422, p. 424-428.


Life reconstruction of Chunerpeton tianyiensis (© N. Tamura)

Photo and line drawing of the holotype of Chunerpeton tianyiensis (CAGS-IG-02051). From Gao & Chubin, 2003.