Reaching nearly two metres in length, the South China giant salamander is critically endangered in the wild.
Scientists say renewed conservation efforts are needed if the animal is to be saved from extinction.
Harvesting for the luxury food trade has led to a collapse in numbers across China.
Previously considered a single species, analysis of specimens, living and dead, suggests there are in fact three species found in different parts of China.
The South China salamander is the largest of the three, which researchers suspect it is the largest amphibian alive today.