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From Adler and Zhao (1991) based on the two type specimens:Head large, its length from snout to gular fold longer than its width (15.2 x 10.6 mm; 12.8 x 9.5 mm); tip of snout rounded. Eyes are dorsolateral in position, slightly protruded; diameter of eye shorter than the distance from its anterior corner to the tip of snout; pupil rounded. Nostril between eye and tip of snout and lightly closer to the latter; distance between nostrils slightly larger or equal to the distance between eyes. A "V"-shaped bulge on top of head. No labial fold. An indistinct gular fold. Angle of jaw just behind the posterior corner of eye. Both maxilla and mandible with tiny teeth. Tongue elliptical, large, almost covering the entire floor of mouth. Series of vomerine teeth "XX"-shaped, the outer branch comprising 6-9 and inner branch 11-15 teeth; the angle formed by outer and inner branches just beyond the anterior margin of choanae; inner branches much longer than the outer ones and extending backwards to the level of the middle of eye ball; the posterior ends of two inner branches close but do not meet at midline. Body short and stout; limbs well developed and tips of digits meet when limbs adpressed. Costal grooved 11, very prominent and meeting on ventral midline. Fingers four, 2-3-4-1 in order of length, the first finger almost equal in length to the fourth. Toes five, 3-42-5-1 I order of length. Digits flattened, free; without palmar and tarsal tubercles; no cornified covering on palms, tarsa, fingers, and toes. Tail length shorter than snout-vent length; tail compressed, but cylindrical at the base and pointed at the end, without crest on ventral edge and only slightly so on its dorsal side. Skin smooth.
The taxonomy of H. chinensis needs to be further examined. The type locality is at central China, Yichang (Ichang). Currently, populations from eastern China are also under the name. Adler and Zhao (1990) questioned the correctness of the type locality. Except the two type specimens, no hynobius have never been found in Yichang area. All other hynobius are distributed in eastern China. Although Adler and Zhao inclined to accept the type locality, the inconsistency of the historical data make it dubious. Futhermore, if the data are right, it is unlikely that the Yichang population is the same species as the eastern Chinese populations.