Biodiversity challenge – Axolotl

Gills allowed (The Mexican who never grew up)

Spill the beans, amphibian Pedro Pan,
Can you resolve the mystery
Of your preternatural history?
Prince of perpetual adolescence;
Unfathomable underwater thwarter
Of senescence.
Does the essence
Of eternal youth
Come in a bottle
Labelled ‘axolotl’.
Gospel truth
Or propaganda,
Señor salamander?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Axolotl

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The bizarre-looking axolotl, which was worshipped by the Aztecs as the physical embodiment of Xolotl, god of lightning and death, is native to the ancient system of deep-water channels and lakes around which Mexico’s capital has expanded. Axolotls are renowned for retaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood, a phenomenon known as neoteny. Unlike most other amphibians, axolotls lead entirely aquatic lives. They reproduce while still in the larval form, and never lose their external gills. Their ability to regrow limbs and organs has recently attracted a great deal of attention from the scientific community. Extinction in the wild is a very real possibility unless the last remaining water bodies to which axolotls are confined can be safeguarded against the deleterious effects of urban expansion. More info

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