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The Axolotl

Wow%2C+what+a+weird+looking+lizard
Wow, what a weird looking lizard

Wow, what a weird looking lizard

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Wow, what a weird looking lizard

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The axolotl or Mexican walking fish is a type of salamander that is found in Xochimilco Lake in Mexico City, Mexico. The axolotl is an endangered species, due to the fact that the Xochimilco Lake is drying up. Although the axolotl is an endangered species, it is being raised in captivity in Mexico. The lake is not properly cared for and is filled with litter and is very polluted.

People of the Xochimilco Lake used to eat axolotls. They would eat them in a traditional Mexican food like tamales, but now this food is just a delicacy. In Japan though, a restaurant serves whole fried axolotl.

Axolotls can vary in size between 6-18 inches long. They are typically 9 inches in size and are able to live to 20 years old but commonly live to 10 years old. They vary in color as they can be black, grey, golden, or albino. In the states, they are illegal only in California only because they are endangered. When axolotls aren’t kept in captivity, they eat worms, snails, small fish, crustaceans, and small amphibians. In captivity, they eat shrimp, bits of beef, and different types of worms. They can also eat tiny pellets that are specially made for there dietary needs.

There is a meaning behind the axolotl’s name. When the Aztecs discovered the axolotl, they called it the axolotl because it’s translation means water dog. Another meaning behind its name is the god of deformations and death, Xolotl.

Commonly used in laboratories, the axolotl can regenerate limbs. Scientists continue to study them because they want to learn how it is possible for them to regenerate limbs. They already know how their bodies regenerate but they want to be able to put this ability in human DNA so that we can just regenerate limbs if we lose them. Also, this amazing animal is incredibly resistant to cancer, much more than humans. Scientists could possibly use them to solve the decade’s long mysteries around the cure for cancer. This may seem a world away but it’s not all that far, thanks to axolotls.

Many enjoy axolotls because it appears that they are smiling, but the axolotl is not smiling, that is just its look. On the side of the axolotl’s head are feathery straw like sticks, that are actually the gills that the axolotls use to breathe.

As shown, axolotls are fascinating creatures that will further be the center of many studies. Hopefully, scientists will learn more about them. Eventually, there might be many, many axolotls in the wild, maybe enough to get them off the endangered list, but that will be up to the many tourists that litter the Xochimilco Lake. Until a change can be made, the axolotl will just be an exotic salamander to most.

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