Giant Salamander Discovered in Cave May Be 200 Years Old

The Chinese giant salamander can reach lengths of up to 6 feet. (Photo: CCTV News/YouTube/Screenshot)

Look out, ancient bowhead whales: You may have some competition in the genre of world's oldest living animal.

An extremely rare Chinese giant salamander has been discovered in a cave outside Chongqing, China. The nearly 5-foot-long, 114-pound amphibian was found after a local fisherman accidentally stepped on something "soft and slimy." Lovely.

According to Chinese media, Wang Yong contacted conservationists, who took the salamander to a nature preserve after determining that the creature was ill. According to early estimates, this particular individual may be more than 200 years old.

It's not clear how scientists arrived at this number, especially considering that wild Chinese giant salamanders have an average lifespan of 80 years. Specimens in captivity can live for 50 years or more. If this creature's age holds, it would basically rewrite the book on the extreme longevity of this species.

Critically endangered due to habitat loss and overhunting, it's estimated that there are fewer than 50,000 Chinese giant salamanders left in the wild, according to Mongabay.