Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

A new species of salamander of the genus Hynobius (Amphibia, Caudata, Hynobiidae) from South Korea



We describe a new species of lentic-breeding Hynobius salamander from the Naro Islands, near the village of Bongrae-myeon, Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do, South Korea, on the basis of results of morphological, ecological and genetic analyses. Hynobius unisacculus sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by a combination of the following morphological attributes: (1) comparatively small size (adult SVL up to 61 mm; range 38.3–60.3 mm in males and 37.5–59.9 mm in females); (2) relatively slender short limbs; tips of fore- and hindlimbs adpressed on body never meeting, but separated by a large gap (gap of -3.0 to -1.5 costal folds in males and -3.5 to -1.5 in females); (3) comparatively short tail (TL/SVL ratio in adult males varying from 0.54–0.98, in adult females from 0.55 to 0.89), tail flattened and with a low dorsal fin extending to the posterior one-third of tail length; (4) usually 11 (occasionally 12) costal grooves; (5) in adults, dark brown dorsum with indistinct bronze or dark copper spots, lighter greyish-white or pinkish belly; (6) well developed fifth toe; (7) comparatively shallow vomerine tooth series with 13–23 vomerine teeth; (8) small, pigmented ova, located in one, occasionally two, strings in a small, curved egg sac with folded envelope, lacking distinct mucous stalks or whiptail-like structures on both ends. The molecular differentiation among Korean Hynobius is high; Hynobius unisacculus sp. nov. is genetically highly divergent from the morphologically similar H. leechii, H. yangi and H. quelpaertensis: pairwise distances are 9.7%, 9.1% and 8.0% of sequence divergence at the COI mtDNA gene respectively, and 10.9%, 10.9% and 9.4% of sequence divergence at the cyt b mtDNA gene, respectively. At present, the new species is known from coastal areas and offshore islands in southeastern part of Jeollanam-do in South Korea. We suggest the species should be considered as Vulnerable (Vu2a) in accordance with IUCN’s Red List categories. Our study supports the presence of undiagnosed taxonomic diversity among Korean Hynobius.



Amphibia, Hynobius unisacculus sp. nov., H. leechii, H. quelpaertensis, H. yangi, egg sacs, lentic-breeding species, mtDNA, morphology

Full Text:

PDF (26MB)


Ab, Y. (1922) [On Ambystomatidae from Japan]. Doubutsugaku zasshi/Zoological Magazine, 34, 328–332. [in Japanese]

Adler, K.A. & Zhao, E.-M. (1990) Studies on hynobiid salamanders, with description of a new genus. Asiatic Herpetological Research, 3, 37–45.

AmphibiaWeb (2016) Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application] (2016) Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available from: (accessed 13 February 2016)

Baek, H.J., Lee, M.Y., Lee, H. & Min, M.S. (2011a) Mitochondrial DNA Data Unveil Highly Divergent Populations within the Genus Hynobius (Caudata: Hynobiidae) in South Korea. Molecules and Cells, 31, 105–112.

Baek, H.J., Lee, J.Y., Song, H. & Min, M.S. (2011b) Species Identification of a New Candidate Taxon HC2 (Caudata: Hynobiidae) Using Mitochondrial COI Gene. Korean Journal of Herpetology, 3, 25–32.

Boulenger, G.A. (1883) Description of new species of reptiles and batrachians in the British Museum. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 5, 12, 161–167.

Boulenger, G.A. (1886) First report on additions to the batrachian collection in the Natural-History Museum. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, 1886, 411–416.

Boulenger, G.A. (1887) Description of a new tailed batrachian from Corea. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 5, 19, 67.

Cai, C.-M. (1985) A survey of tailed amphibians for Zhejiang, with description of a new species of Hynobius. Acta Herpetologica Sinica/ Liangqi baxing dongwu yanjiu, New Series, Chengdu, 4 (2), 109–114. [in Chinese with English abstract]

Cha, S.H. & Lee, H.Y. (1995) NORs variation of Hynobius leechii. Korean Journal of Genetics, 17, 87–98.

Chang, M.-H., Koo, K.-S. & Song, J.-Y. (2011) The list of amphibian species in 66 islands in Korea. Korean Journal of Herpetology, 3, 19–24.

Chen, C.S., Yang, J., Wu, Y.K., Fan, Z.Y., Lu, W.W., Chen, S.H., Yu, L.P. (2016) The Breeding Ecology of a Critically Endangered Salamander, Hynobius amjiensis (Caudata:Hynobiidae), Endemic to Eastern China. Asian Herpetological Research, 7 (1), 54–59.

Dunn, E.R. (1923) The salamanders of the family Hynobiidae. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 58, 445–523.

Fei, L., Hu, S.-Q., Ye, C.-Y. & Huang, Y.-Z. (2006) Fauna Sinica. Amphibia. Volume 1. General Accounts of Gymnophiona and Urodela. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Science Press., Beijing, 471 pp., xvi pls. [in Chinese]

Felsenstein, J. (1985) Confidence limits on phylogenies: an approach using the bootstrap. Evolution, 39 (4), 783–791.

Frost, D.R. (2016) Amphibian species of the world: An Online Reference, version 6.0. American Museum of Natural History, New York. Available from: http:// (accessed 13 February 2016)

Fu, J., Hayes, M.H., Liu, Z.J. & Zeng, X.M. (2003) Genetic divergence of the Southeastern Chinese salamanders of the genus Hynobius. Dong Wu Xue Bao, 49, 585–591.

Good, D.A. & Wake, D.B. (1992) Geographic Variation and Speciation in the Torrent Salamanders of the Genus Rhyacotriton (Caudata: Rhyacotritonidae). University of California Publications in Zoology, 126, i–xi, 1–91.

Gu, H.-Q. (1992 "1991") A new species of Hynobius—Hynobius amjiensis. In: Qian, Y., Zhao, E.-M. & Zhao, K.-T. (Eds.), Animal Science Research: A Symposium Issued to Celebrate the 90th Birthday of the Professor Mangven Ly Chang. Chinese Forestry Press, Beijing, pp. 39–43. [in Chinese with English abstract]

Günther, A.C.L.G. (1889) Third contribution to our knowledge of reptiles and fishes from the upper Yangtze-Kiang. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 6, 4, 218–229.

Huelsenbeck, J.P. & Ronquist, F. (2001) MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogeny. Bioinformatics, 17, 754–755.

IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, and Cambridge, ii + 30 pp.

Jobb, G., von Haeseler, A. & Strimmer, K. (2004) TREEFINDER: a powerful graphical analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 4, 18.

Kim, J.B. & Song, J.Y. (2010) Amphibians and Reptiles in Korea. World Science Publishing, Seoul, 146 pp. [pp.12–19]

Kim, J.B., Matsui, M. & Nishikawa, K. (2007) Genetic relationship among salamanders of the genus Hynobius (Amphibia, Caudata) from Korea and Southwestern Japan. Zoological Science, 24, 1128–1133.

Kim, J.-B., Min, M.-S. & Matsui, M. (2003) A new species of lentic breeding Korean salamander of the genus Hynobius (Amphibia, Urodela). Zoological Science, 20, 1163–1169.

Kim, J.-K., Lee, J.-H., Ra, N.-Y., Lee, H.-J., Eom, J. & Park, D. (2009) Reproductive function of the body and tail undulation of Hynobius leechii (Amphibia: Hynobiidae): a quantitative approach. Animal Cells and Systems, 13, 71–78.

Lai, J.S. & Lue, K.Y. (2008) Two new Hynobius (Caudata: Hynobiidae) salamanders from Taiwan. Herpetologica, 64, 63–80.

Lee, H.Y. & Jung, Y.K. (1993) Genetic differentiation of Korean salamander. Korean Journal of Zoology, 36, 14–2.

Lee, H.Y., Kim, Y.R., Yang, D.E. & Yang, S.Y. (1998) The genetic differentiation of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of Korean salamander. The Korean journal of genetics, 20, 155–162.

Lee, J.H. & Park, D. (2008) Effects of physical parameters and age on the order of entrance of Hynobius leechii to a breeding pond. Journal of Ecology and Field Biology, 31, 183–191.

Matsui, M. & Miyazaki, K. (1984) Hynobius takedai (Amphibia, Urodela), a new species of salamander from Japan. Zoological Science, 1, 665–671.

Matsui, M. (1987) Isozyme variation in salamanders of the nebulosus–lichenatus complex of the genus Hynobius from eastern Honshu, Japan, with a description of a new species. Japanese Journal of Herpetology / Hachū ryōseiruigaku zasshi, 12, 50–64.

Misawa, Y. (1989) The method of counting costal grooves. In: Matsui, M. (Eds.), Current Herpetology in East Asia. Herpetological Society of Japan, Kyoto, pp. 129–134.

Mori, T. (1927) On a new Hynobius from South Manchuria. China Journal of Science & Arts, Shanghai, 6, 205–206. [in Japanese]

Mori, T. (1928) On amphibians and reptiles of Quelpaert Island. Chosen Natural History Society Journal/ Chosen Hakubutsu Gakkai zasshi, 6, 47–53. [in Japanese]

Murphy, R.W., Crawford, A.J., Bauer, A.M., Che, J., Donnellan, S.C., Fritz, U., Haddad, C.F.B., Nagy, Z.T., Poyarkov, N.A., Vences, M., Wang, W.-Z. & Zhang, Y.-P. (2013) Cold Code: the global initiative to DNA barcode amphibians and nonavian reptiles. Molecular Ecology Resources, 13 (2), 161–167.

Nambu, H. (1991) Hynobius tenuis (Caudata, Hynobiidae), a new species of salamander from central Japan. Zoological Science, 8, 991–997.

Nishikawa, K. & Matsui, M. (2014) Three new species of the salamander genus Hynobius (Amphibia, Urodela, Hynobiidae) from Kyushu, Japan. Zootaxa, 3852 (2), 203–226.

Nishikawa, K., Matsui, M., Tanabe, S. & Sato, S. (2007) Morphological and allozymic variation in Hynobius boulengeri and H. stejnegeri (Amphibia: Urodela: Hynobiidae). Zoological Science, 24, 752–766.

Nylander, J.A.A. (2004) MRMODELTEST. Version 2.1. Computer program distributed by the author. Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Oh, D.J., Chang, M.H., Oh, H.S. & Jung, Y.H. (2007) The complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the Jeju salamander, Hynobius quelpaertensis, and the phylogenetic relationships among the Hynobiidae. Korean Journal of Genetics, 29, 331–341.

Park, D. & Park S.-R. (2000) Multiple insemination and reproductive biology of Hynobius leechii. Journal of Herpetology, 34, 594–598.

Posada, D. & Crandall, K.A. (1998) MODELTEST: Testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics, 14, 817–818.

Poyarkov, N.A. & Kuzmin, S.L. (2008) Phylogeography of the Siberian Newt Salamandrella keyserlingii by Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Analysis. Russian Journal of Genetics, 44 (8), 948–958.

Poyarkov, N.A. Jr., Che, J., Min, M.-S., Kuro-o, M., Yan, F., Li, C., Iizuka, K. & Vieites, D.R. (2012) Review of the systematics, morphology and distribution of Asian Clawed Salamanders, genus Onychodactylus (Amphibia, Caudata: Hynobiidae), with the description of four new species. Zootaxa, 3465, 1–106.

Ronquist, F. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2003) MRBAYES 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models. Bioinformatics, 19, 1572–1574.

Sato, I. (1934) On a new species of Hynobius from Japan. Journal of Science of the Hiroshima University, Series B, Division 1, Zoology, 3, 1–25.

Sato, I. (1943) Monograph of the Tailed Batrachians of Japan [= Nippon-san yubirui sosetsu]. Nippon Publ. Co., Osaka, 520 pp. [in Japanese]

Shen, Y.-H., Deng X.-J. & Wang, B. (2004) A new hynobiid species, Hynobius guabangshanensis, from Hunan Province, China (Amphiba: Hynobiidae). Acta Zoologica Sinica/ Dong Wu Xue Bao, 50, 209–215. [in Chinese with English abstract]

Smith, A.M., Poyarkov, N.A. & Hebert, P.D.N. (2008) CO1 DNA barcoding amphibians: take the chance, meet the challenge. Molecular Ecology Notes, 8 (2), 235–246.

Song, J.Y. & Koo, K.S. (2010) Loss of the Whiptail-like Structure at the End of Egg Sacs of Hynobius leechii (Urodela: Hynobiidae) in Narodo and Boseong Populations. Korean Journal of Herpetology, 2 (1), 23–26.

Sparreboom, M. (2014) Salamanders of the Old World: the salamanders of Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. Lam Edition. KNNV Publishing, Leiden, 431 pp.

Stejneger, L. (1907) Herpetology of Japan and adjacent territory. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, 58, i–xx + 1–577.

Sung, H.-Ch., Lee, J.-H. & Park, D.-S. (2005) Entering and exiting routes of Hynobius leechii to a breeding site and staying time within the site. Korean Journal of Ecology, 28 (5), 237–243.

Tago, K. (1929) [Tailed batrachia of Japan] Dōbutsugaku zasshi/ Zoological Magazine, 41, 430–432. [in Japanese]

Tago, K. (1931) Imori to Sanshou-uo [= Newt and Salamander]. Maruzen, Tokyo, 210 pp. [in Japanese]

Tamura, K., Peterson, D., Peterson, N., Stecher, G., Nei, M. & Kumar, S. (2011) MEGA5: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis using Maximum Likelihood, Evolutionary Distance, and Maximum Parsimony Methods. Molecular Ecology, 28, 2731–2739.

Temminck, C.J. & Schlegel, H. (1838) Fauna Japonica sive Descriptio animalium, quae in itinere per Japonianum, jussu et auspiciis superiorum, qui summum in India Batava Imperium tenent, suscepto, annis 1823–1830 colleget, notis observationibus et adumbrationibus illustratis. Vol. 3 (Chelonia, Ophidia, Sauria, Batrachia). J. G. Lalau, Leiden, 329 pp. [in French]

Thompson, J.D., Gibson, T.J., Plewniak, F., Jeanmougin, F. & Higgins, D.G. (1997) The ClustalX windows interface: flexible strategies for multiple sequence alignment aided by quality analysis tools. Nucleic Acids Research, 25, 4876–4882.

Vences, M., Thomas, M., Bonett, R.M. & Vieites, D.R. (2005) Deciphering amphibian diversity through DNA barcoding: chances and challenges. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 360, 1859–1868.

Vieites, D.R., Wollenberg, K.C., Andreone, F., Kohler, J., Glaw, F. & Vences, M. (2009) Vast underestimation of Madagascar’s biodiversity evidenced by an integrative amphibian inventory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 8267–8272.

Wang, H.Y., Tsai, M.P., Tu, M.C. & Lee, S.C. (2000) Universal primers for amplification of the complete mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene in vertebrates. Zoological Studies, 39, 61–66.

Wang, X., Wu, M., Zhang, Y., Wang, W.-J., Liu, M.-Y., Wu, B.-L. & Zhu, Z.-Q. (2007) On the re-discovery of Hynobius chinensis Gunther, 1889 from type-locality and its description after 116 years. Sichuan Journal of Zoology/Sichuan dong wu, 26, 57–58. [in Chinese with English abstract]

Xia, Y., Gu, H.-F., Peng, R., Chen, Q., Zheng, Y.-C., Murphy, R.W. & Zeng, X.-M. (2012) COI is better than 16S rRNA for DNA barcoding Asiatic salamanders (Amphibia: Caudata: Hynobiidae). Molecular Ecology Resources, 12, 48–56.

Yang, H.J., Baek, H.J., Spear, R., Webb, R., Park, S.K., Kim, T.H., Lasater, K.C., Shin, S.P., Son, S.H., Park, J.H., Min, M.S., Kim, Y.J., Na, K.J., Lee. H. & Park, S.C. (2009) First detection of the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytridium dendrobatidis, in wild populations of Korean amphibians. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 86, 9–13.

Yang, S.Y., Kim, J.B., Min, M.S., Suh, J.H. & Suk, H.Y. (1997) Genetic and phenetic differentiation among three forms of Korean salamander Hynobius leechii. Korean journal of biological sciences, 1, 247–257.

Yang, S.Y., Kim, J.B., Min, M.S., Suh, J.H. & Kang, Y.J. (2001) Han’guk ui yangsoryu [= Monograph of Korean Amphibia]. Academy book Press, Seoul, 187 pp. [in Korean)]

Zeng, X. & Fu, J. (2004) Low Genetic Diversity in Chinese Hynobius leechii, with Comments on the Validity of Hynobius mantchuricus. Amphibia-Reptilia, 25, 119–122.

Zhang, P., Chen, Y.Q., Zhou, H., Liu, Y.F., Wang, X.L., Papenfuss, T.J., Wake, D.B. & Qu, L.H. (2006) Phylogeny, evolution, and biogeography of Asiatic salamanders (Hynobiidae). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 7360–7365.

Zhao, E.-M., Hu, Q.-X., Jiang, Y.-M. & Yang, Y.-H. (1988) Studies on Chinese Tailed Amphibians. In: Studies on Chinese Salamanders. Contributions to Herpetology, No. 4. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Oxford, Ohio, pp. 1–39.

Zhou, F., Jiang, A.-W. & Jiang, D.-B. (2006) A new species of the genus Hynobius from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China (Caudata, Hynobiidae). Acta Zootaxonomica Sinica/ Dong wu fen lei xue bao, 31, 670–674. [in Chinese with English abstract]



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand