Tuesday, January 10, 2017

'The Burrow' @ Blue Heron has a new friend! An Axolotl

Children and campers at the Blue Heron Nature Preserve have been thrilled with a new addition from The Amphibian Foundation — an Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) named Armie!
An axolotl is a type of salamander from Central America. They are nearly extinct in the wild, but are thriving in captive collections. Some of them are brown speckled (wild type). Others, like the one pictured here are leucistic (or lacking much of the pigment). There are many interesting things about axolotls (other than the inherent coolness about being a salamander).

As you can see from the picture, Armie's left arm is backwards. He grew up that way, but axolotls can regrow their limbs! If Armie's deformation occured by an injury or trauma during early development, then there is a good chance his arm would grow back properly if it was removed. However, if his arm is backwards due to genetic mutation, then it would most likely regrow exactly as it is. Either way, we are not going to try that experiment in The Burrow, but it is neat to think about.

Another incredible thing about axolotls, is that they never fully metamorphose. The stay in their larval form throughout their lives. That might not seem strange to you, but it would be the equivalent of a tadpole never metamorphosing into a frog, but instead becoming an adult tadpole! Instead of metamorphosis, axolotls undergo paedomorphosis - the retention of juvenile characters into adulthood.