In a cave outside the southwestern Chinese town of Chongqing, a fisherman accidentally stepped on a centuries-old creature. Turns out, it was a giant salamander that might be 200 years old.
The fisherman said he stepped on something "soft" and "slimy," which turned out to be a 4 1/2-foot long, 104-pound salamander. The salamander's species is Andrias davidianus, which have actually been known to grow up to six feet long in captivity. As The Washington Post reported, the age estimate — for now — should be taken with a grain of salt, as we don't yet know how they determined it.
But, if it's accurate, it means that the salamander was born just six years after Abraham Lincoln was in 1809. A group of scientists have now taken the salamander out of his cave and into captivity, where it will be taken care of at a nature preserve. While that might not sound like a great development for the salamander, it's actually an important one.
In China, this particular breed is seen as a delicacy and commonly eaten. That might be why the species has decreased 80 percent since the 1950s. In fact, just this past September, a city in China held a three-day festival to celebrate the health benefits purportedly given from eating giant salamanders.
For now, the old salamander will be safely away from poachers and any potential prey. But the scientists who the fisherman turned him over to did concede that he was sick, so it's unclear how much longer he may live.