Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Daddy, I want an Axolotl"


Most girls want a puppy, or a kitten, or a pony. But my eldest daughter Sky wants an Axolotl. Seeing her blog entry took me back to my first encounter with one of these strange creatures, staring impassively at me from a small fishtank in my school's biology lab. I don't remember wanting one, but I did ask our long-suffering biology teacher, Mr Cotmore, what it was.

His answer ("It's called an Axolotl, it's an amphibian.") didn't help much, but a quick trip to the school library revealed that the Axolotl (pronounced Ax-oh-lot-ul) is no ordinary amphibian.

The Axolotl exhibits a phenomenon known as neoteny. Most amphibians grow via metamorphosis, moving from egg to larva (the tadpole stage in frogs), before adopting their adult form. The Axolotl's development freezes at the larval stage, complete with its trademark gills and fins.

In very rare cases Axolotl's can metamorphose spontaneously to their 'adult' form. An adult axolotl is a rare (and sickly) thing, but it bears a close resemblance to the Mexican subspecies of the Tiger Salamander.

The Axolotyl is an endangered species in the wild, however, it seems to have discovered a new ecological niche, science laboratories, where it is studied for its healing/regeneration abilities. Normal wound-healing in animals occurs through the growth of scar tissue, and this also means that they cannot re-grow a lost limb. The Axolotl can re-grow limbs, and even accept transplants from other Axolotls, including eyes and parts of the brain - restoring these alien organs to full functionality.

In some cases, Axolotls have been known to repair a damaged limb as well as regenerating an additional one, ending up with an extra appendage. There are even records of a decapitated Axolotl regenerating its head.
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8 comments:

Sky Jordan said...

I want it :D

Skep said...

Regenerating it's head back? That is simply mind-blowing. In more ways than one.

Teifion said...

I want two

brett jordan said...

Hi Teifion

Two you say? Just chop one in half and wait a couple of weeks :-)

your ever luvvin' uncle brett

Jason Clark said...

aah the Ambystoma mexicanum :-) cool :-)

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i need to get out more...how much do they cost and do they bite?

brett jordan said...

:-) my guess is you'd be best served skulking around your local college's science lab equipped with a large bin liner for the acquisition, and a pair of inline skates for the getaway.

Anonymous said...

They are really funny and quit dafe thngs perfect for a bored teenager...

 
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