Wikinews interviews co-discoverers of Ziegler's crocodile newt

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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Tylototriton ziegleri male
Image: Nguyen Thien Tao.
A Tylototriton ziegleri female
Image: Nguyen Thien Tao.
The species natural habitat
Image: Nguyen Thien Tao.
Black knobby newt larvae
Image: Nguyen Thien Tao.
DNA sequencers
A curved calipers
A photo of the field study
Image: Nguyen Thien Tao.

In February, Japanese herpetologists Kanto Nishikawa, Masafumi Matsui (of the Kyoto University), and Tao Thien Nguyen (of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology) discovered Ziegler's crocodile newt in Vietnam. The new species, called Tylototriton ziegleri, is characterised by a unique morphology, most noticeably the rough skin. The researchers noticed the new set of species features when examining a specimen in National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo and confirmed the species after a field study and DNA analysis.

On February 18, the researchers successfully published the paper at Current Herpetology,published by the Herpetological Society of Japan.

Masafumi Matsui asked Kanto Nishikawa to identify the species from the museum. After a discussion with Tao Thien Nguyen, younger brother of T. Q. Nguyen, co-author of an existing Tylototriton vietnamensis species, Kanto Nishikawa identified the species as a new one.

Last Friday, Wikinews interviewed the research team about the study.

((Wikinews)) What is most particular in the new species morphology?

Kanto Nishikawa: Very rough skin.

((WN)) What kind of environments do the newts live in?

KN: Secondary and primary forest, near wet land.

((WN)) What do the newts eat?

KN: Probably small invertebrates, like earthworms, insect, and snails...

((WN)) What equipment was used during the research?

KN: Calipers for measuring specimens, DNA sequencer and PC for molecular analysis.

((WN)) What were the roles of the people involved in the research? What activity was most time-consuming?

KN: Collecting in the wild, analysis of data, and getting research permission.
Tao Thien Nguyen: I am also co-author of paper.
TTN: I was conducted survey in Hagiang and Cao Bang provinces during two year 2010 and 2011. I collected total 10 samples of Tylototriton in the nature habitat for our research,
TTN: I like Nikon camera very much and the photos taken by Nikon D300 body with Macro-len 60:2.8,

((WN)) Who did you have to get research permission from?

KN: From local government or national museum where Mr. Tao belongs to. We need many permissions not only for conducting research, but also exporting (= borrowing) specimens. This is common for researchers.

((WN)) What was the purpose of the field study? Is an alive individual required for DNA analysis, for species description and depiction, or for something else?

KN: Yes, for collecting alive one for DNA, and compiling information on habitat, ecology, breeding sites of the species.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.