Today’s uncommon creature is an axolotl (Suggested by Rebecca Evans). It also has been called a Mexican salamander or a Mexican walking fish, but whatever you decided to call it, it’s certainly unusual. In the wild, they are normally a greenish brown or black, but back in 1863, a mutant male was shipped to Paris and captive ones were then specifically bred to be whitish pink with black eyes. Though popular as an exotic pet or used frequently as laboratory specimens because they are easy to breed, they can only be found naturally in Xochimilco, Mexico and their populations are declining, making them critically endangered.
What appears to be an odd hairdo or exotic headdress on its head are actually its gills. Axolotl’s exhibit neoteny, which means, like many human adults, as they get older they never really mature. Even after growing lungs, they stay in the water and hold onto their gills, refusing to grow up. But seriously, who would want to give up such a fashionable look! Unlike humans, however, the axolotl can get coaxed into maturity with a shot of iodine. This, I should note, has not been proven to work with 20-somethings still living in mom and dad’s basement.
Though many amphibians can regenerate limbs, the axolotl really takes it up a notch with the ability to regenerate their jaws, spines, and even brains. Slice ’em and dice ’em and each time they’ll regenerate a perfectly formed replacement with absolutely no signs of scarring. This uncommon ability makes them valuable study in labs and scientists are currently trying to learn more about these enviable superpowers to see if they can recreate this phenomenon in humans. Which is both exciting and disturbing all at the same time. If you have a suggestion for a future uncommon creature, don’t forget to let me know in the comments!
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon blue ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!