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What is a Japanese giant salamander?

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Quick Answer

The Japanese giant salamander is a large species of amphibian native to the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Honshu. The salamander is true to its name, growing to an adult length of 5 feet and weighing up to 55 pounds.

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Full Answer

Although very large, it displays many neotenic features, or characteristics retained from earlier life stages. For example, it never develops eyelids. It also lacks gill openings, has a single pair of closed gill slits and possesses only rudimentary lungs. Instead, it breathes through its skin. Despite its weight, the animal has such a slow metabolism that it is capable of going without food for weeks.

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