03/09/2013 04:30 am ET

Giant Salamander VIDEO Shows World's Largest Amphibian Vacuuming Up A Meal

By Traci Watson

The giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) isn't just the world's largest amphibian. A new study shows the animal, which can reach 50 kilograms and 1.6 meters, has an outsized talent: It's a supersucker. Researchers found that the mammoth creature, which lives in rivers in China, can vacuum up a whole fish in 0.05 seconds, engulfing the tidbit and more than a liter of water in its gaping maw, as seen in the time-lapse video above.

So powerful is its suck that prey enters its mouth at accelerations comparable to those of rocket-powered cars. The team's computer simulations show that the salamander creates suction by whipping open its broad, flat jaws with the help of huge muscles—an unprecedented technique. Writing in today's Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the researchers note that the giant salamander resembles the Earth's earliest four-legged creatures.

So those first tetrapods—which paved the way from sea to land—may have opened wide to slurp up their prey as well.

See more videos.

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science.



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