Wednesday, May 18, 2011
axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum...
The axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum, is a neotenic mole salamander belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled.
The species originates from Lake Texcoco underlying Mexico City and is also called ajolote (which is also the common name for the Mexican Mole Lizard). Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate most body parts, ease of breeding, and large embryos. They are commonly kept as pets in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan (sold under the name wooper looper and other countries.
Axolotls should not be confused with water dogs, the larval stage of the closely related Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum and Amby stoma mavortium), which are widespread in much of North America and also occasionally become neotenic, nor with mudpuppies (Necturus spp.), fully-aquatic salamanders which are not closely related to the axolotl but bear a superficial resemblance.
As of 2010, wild axolotls are near extinction due to urbanization in Mexico City and polluted waters. Nonnative fish such as African tilapia and Asian carp have also recently been introduced to the waters. These new fish have been eating the axolotls' young, as well as its primary source of food. The axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's annual Red List of threatened species.