Ambystoma mexicanus

The Axolotl lives in some lakes close to Mexico City. This species is approaching extinction due to pollution and the expansion of the city and even because this animal is used for traditional medicine purposes. They are also sold in Mexican markets, and were part of the Aztec diet.

Axolotls have four different colours, two naturally occurring colors and two mutants. The two naturally occurring colors are "wildtype" (varying shades of brown usually with spots) and melanoid (black). The two mutant colors are leucistic (pale pink with black eyes) and albino (golden, tan or pale pink with pink eyes).

The larvae of this species does not undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled, a condition called neoteny or juvenilization. However, it is known that axolotls can be induced to metamorphose by an injection of iodine. Axolotls use their external gills for breathing, although they can also gulp air form the surface of the water so to take oxygen to their lungs. They are also able to regenerate whole limbs in a period of months, and some have even been able to regenerate some parts of their brains. The regeneration ability is largely lost in axolotls that have been artificially induced to metamorphose. Because of these features, the axolotl is used as a model for the development of limbs in vertebrates.

The above picture was taken in Thessaloniki, in July 2012.

Genus Ambystoma
Family Ambystomatidae
Suborder Salamandroidea
Order Caudata
Class Amphibia
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth