Meet the Mexican axolote, native to the lakes of the Valley of Mexico
A species imbued with Mexican history, culture and identity
From Xochimilco to the world: the Mexican axolote. An amphibian of mythological origin, part of the Mexican culture and identity. In addition to posing extraordinary features, she has a lovely smile that steals hearts. Unfortunately, this sympathetic creature is in critical danger of extinction. Let’s get to know a little more …
The legend of the ancient Aztecs tells that when the gods had to be sacrificed for the birth of the Fifth Sun, Xolotl (twin of Quetzalcoatl), first mutated in two-reed corn, then in penca de maguey, and finally in axolotl (from Nahuatl, “water monstrous”). Turned into this creature, he launched himself into Lake Xochimilco, and it was there that the executioner captured and killed him, giving rise to this peculiar Mexican amphibian.
As he considered the incarnation of the god Xolotl, the axolotl was used by the Aztecs as food, medicine and the object of ritual ceremonies.
He Ambystoma mexicanum or axolotl is an amphibian native to the lakes of the Valley of Mexico; in fact it survives in the lake of Xochimilco. It has the ability to regenerate muscles, muscles, internal organs and even the brain. Undoubtedly, a mechanism that has always been in the spotlight of researchers.
- It’s not special neotenia; during all their life it conserves his tadpole characteristics.
- Under stress it can metamorphose and become a salamander.
- Breathe through the lungs, branches and skin.
- The shape of his mouth simulates a permanent smile to his face.
- A specimen can weigh 60 to 220 grams and measure 15 to 30 centimeters long.
- It is a carnivore and its diet is based on mollusks, small fish, larvae and crustaceans. Although there are about 126 small servings, swallow whole foods.
- In the wild it can live up to 6 years and under human care up to 15 years.
- The Mexican axolotl reproduces once a year, the female lays an average of 300 eggs. The pups are born 10 to 14 days later.
- In Mexico, there are 17 species; 16 endemic and one (Ambystoma mavortium) separate distribution with United States and Canada.
- These amazing amphibians use their colors to camouflage themselves. Therefore, their color can range from albino to black, depending on where they live.
In 2006, the axolotl was added to the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as it is specific in critical danger of extinction, due to:
- Illegal commercial
- Habitat loss
- Water pollution
- Overfishing for human consumption
- Introduction to invasive species in their habitat
In 2019, an assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Species found that between 50 and a thousand specimens were found in the wild and their populations are declining.
From pre-Hispanic times to the present day, the Mexican axolotl has been the muse of various writers, poets and visual artists, including Julio Cortázar, José Emilio Pacheco, Octavio Paz and Diego Rivera.
This adorable amphibian inspires anyone who knows him. The axolotl is present in the design of the Pokemon Mudkip and the brave Axi, main character of the video game AXOL (developed by a group of young Mexicans). It also gives life to the official emoji of Mexico City and even the Cervecería Monstruo de Agua has been named in his honor.
In 2018, the senator of the Republic of Mexico declared February 1 as National Day of the Ajolote thanks to a study in the journal Nature, which revealed that its genome has 32 billion base pairs in its DNA, that is, 10 times more than the human genome.
In 2021, the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) will issue a 50 pesos note with the ajolote as the protagonist. That same year, the International Banknote Society (IBNS) awarded it as Banknote of the Year.
In case you didn’t know, La Gorda, the ticket axolotl lives in Axolotitlán, a museum located within the Ectagon ecological project and dedicated to the dissemination of information and the preservation of the species in Mexico City.
Places for visits to ajolote mexicano:
- Cuemanco Center for Biological and Aquaculture Research (CIBAC)of the Metropolitan Autonomous University.
- Urrutia Bridge Pier “Birds of Paradise”to Xochimilco.
- Tezozómoc Parklocated in the Azcapotzalco Mayor’s Office.
- House of the Axolotein the magical village of Chignahuapan, Puebla.
Now that we have given a brief tour of the history of the Mexican axolotl, he understood its value and significance in Mexican popular culture and knew its unique and extraordinary characteristics of great value to science, we can only acknowledge that the axolotl is an animal. amazing that we have to take care of and protect.
What impressed you most about this peculiar amphibian?
Communicator, occasional traveler, occasional writer, feline lover and hobby photographer. I treasure every moment I capture with my camera.