The axolotl (pronounced ak-suh-laa-tl) is a carnivorous amphibian that looks like a creature of mythology. With the colorful filaments that protrude from the animal’s head, not to mention its transparent webbed feet, this isn’t very surprising. There was even an Aztec god inspired by this animal, named Xolotl.
While this species is found commonly in pet stores, it’s nearing extinction in the wild. This is due to the great number of axolotls taken into laboratories to study their regenerative tissue. Not only this, but they’re a delicacy in Japan.
In the hopes of bringing these fascinating animals back into the wild, scientists are working to release them into the ponds and canals of Xochimilco, Mexico. This is the only place left where they can be found naturally.
“The task of saving them is difficult, but should be doable given the animal’s hardiness—if the Mexican government would only engage with the process” (Erik Vance, Nature Magazine).
One interesting axolotl characteristic worth mentioning concerns the head filaments I mentioned earlier. These aren’t merely for decoration, but are actually its gills.
There is still much left to be learned about these creatures, so hopefully scientists will be successful in taking them off of the endangered species list.