Weird Wildlife Wednesday: Axolotl
Meet the Axolotl
Species: A. mexicanum
An extremely endangered salamander from a place near Mexico City, the axolotl is bred extensively in captivity because of its importance to scientific research. The nature of the importance being that A. mexicanum is capable of complete regrowth of many of their different body parts, including spinal cord, limbs, tail, and even half their brain! The embryo is also remarkable in that it can be successfully spliced and combined with parts of other embryos. Four researchers at the University of Kentucky have taken four different approaches to the science of limb regeneration, one of which is sequencing the salamander genome and focusing specifically on this creature.
The axolotl is so cute because it’s still technically a baby. Most amphibians metamorphose from egg to larvae to adult, but this animal remains in the larval form, retaining gills and fins and reaching sexual maturity in this stage (called neotony or paedomorphism). Because it is larval, like a tadpole, it also lives completely underwater breathing through gills and its skin.
When treated with hormones, this salamander will metamorphose into an adult stage and resemble its near relation the tiger salamander.
Additional source: http://www.axolotl.org/