The Axolotl

The Axolotl Doodlewash

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


Recommended1 recommendationPublished in By Charlie
  1. Spring has sprung! It’s written all over his face! He’s jumping for joy! *boing boing* well done, bro! 😀

    • Author

      Lol…he is! I’ll be doing the same when it truly arrives here, but no…there won’t be doodlewashes or videos of that! Haha! Thanks Laura!! 😃💕

  2. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    There is a well-known axolotl lab at our local university. I hadn’t been there in close to 20 years. I met an illustrator last year who is working on a picture book about them. 🙂 You make this wacky creature awfully cute! <3

    • Author

      Awww thanks Teresa!! 😃💕 I was struck by the fact they seem to be smiling all the time. Must be nice to stay young forever! Hehe And cool on the illustrator working on a book…they would make a fun (and strange!) picture book.

  3. Majka 7 years ago

    Looks cute ☺

  4. Carol 7 years ago

    Very fascinating information about your strangely adorable subject. How cool to never grow up and be able to regenerate body parts! Now if only something could be done about that bed head!! 😄

    • Author

      Thanks Carol! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this. Yeah…I’m thinking bed head is a small price to pay for all those superpowers!! lol

  5. Carmel Campbell 7 years ago

    What a cool looking creature..

  6. kungfunaomi 7 years ago

    It looks so SQUISHY! 😀 Where we used to live we had salamanders, but nothing like that!

    • Author

      This would be a salamander with a little jolt of iodine, but it refuses to grow up! Which is not a bad quality really. Lol

  7. Teri C 7 years ago

    Wow, that is about the weirdest one yet! Loving this new series.

    • Author

      Thanks Teri!! 😃💕 Glad you’re liking this series… so many weird and wonderful creatures to explore out there!

  8. Jacob 7 years ago

    Very sweet – he has the most ‘goofy cute’ face I think I’ve ever seen! So goofy in fact that I was sure you were playing tricks on us for a moment there, throwing a fake in to see if anyone would realise 😉 (that’s a pretty fun idea, actually) But no, he’s so goofy that he can only be a product of nature.

    • Author

      Yep…totally legit goofy nature at play here! I didn’t even exaggerate or make up the smile! Looks like a cute version of a creature that would grow up 100 times bigger and kick your ass in a boss stage of a video game. Lol Glad they never grow up!!

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        Haha, oh my, he is totally a video game boss – even down to the name! “I can’t defeat the stupid Axolotl.” The smile seems rather more sinister now in that context.

  9. Sabiscuit 7 years ago

    Yup, want one. <3

  10. M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

    Funny but slightly off putting. Would NOT like one as a pet…

  11. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    Oh my, what a very weird and funny character. Charlie, I love your style!!

  12. Yay, thank Charlie, your doodle wash looks just like the one we had in the lab, just looking at me through the glass…..I never could tell if it was smiling, it always looked the same. My feeling sorry for it, has come flooding back. I wonder what happened to the strange thing? When my daughter went to view the collage for her A levels a few years ago, I dashed to the lab to see if it was still there… tank! Very fascinating creatures. Made my day, even if it was for a peculiar memory( even the lab smells have come flooding back- yuk) 😀

    • Author

      Thanks for the suggestion, Rebecca!! 😃💕This was such a weird one! Hehe…and super hard to doodlewash. It’s just sort of flesh and fringe! Lol Awww too bad it wasn’t still there. I think these creatures would be very memorable… definitely worth risking the lab smells to get a peek! 😉

  13. Whaaaaaaat? A bit of a shock first thing in the morning…

    • Author

      You’re welcome. Now you’ll no longer be requiring that coffee. lol I did warn that these would be uncommon creatures this month, right? You’re right…some of these are just too freaky to be real!

  14. KWP 7 years ago

    Love him … Happy fella X

  15. lizintheshed 7 years ago

    That’s a face only a mother could love!!!

  16. ArtsyDot 7 years ago

    What an interesting character!

  17. Cathe 7 years ago

    A critter with superpowers! Very cool Charlie!

  18. memadtwo 7 years ago

    I love this one Charlie…lots of personality! Maybe that multiplies too! (K)

    • Author

      Thanks Kerfe! 😃💕Hehe…yeah I think their personality must grow make stronger each time. I know I few humans who could stand to regenerate a personality. Maybe science will indeed come through for them! Lol

  19. jellico84 7 years ago

    Oh, I just love the look on it’s face. It’s too too precious! I saw one of these in a Mexican “ocean” zoo on one of the islands… It’s been over 20 yrs and I don’t remember the location exactly. But, they are beautiful little creatures. So sad they’re fading… us humans are probably to blame for that.

    • Author

      Hehe… it’s a weird one isn’t it? Always seems to have a bit of a smile though. Cool that you saw one! I haven’t seen one of these in person yet. Yeah, the dark colored ones are dwindling in the wild, but I think these guys are at least continuing on as squishy lab rats… not sure that’s a better thing though!

  20. Scribble Fiend 7 years ago

    Oh my gosh, I also love the expression on its face! Haha!

  21. Susan Feniak 7 years ago

    Another fascinating creature. This time I have actually heard of it. Yay me! I like its quirky face.

    • Author

      Hehe! Yay you!! Yeah… I’d seen this one before and didn’t know the name! Definitely odd… but seems to be smiling at least so he’s not bothered by looking this way! Lol

  22. Kari 7 years ago

    This is truly unusual. I’ve never heard of these amazing creatures! I wonder if I can give my son a shot of iodine for some maturity! Haha.. My family has been plagued with the flu. I’m home today because I feel crappy.. I’m going back to read your other posts!! ❤️

    • Author

      Thanks Kari! No, sadly… iodine doesn’t work with kids! haha! And oh no… so sorry the plague came to your home. I hope you’re getting plenty of rest and feel better very soon my friend!! 💕💕

  23. Tom Merriman 7 years ago

    It looks like an alien-human hybrid in that picture, Charlie! But another one I’ve heard of!

  24. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Ah, the axolotl! Such a curious beast. It’s got gills and lungs, and always stays young, and regrows when it should be deceased! Such a crazy crittur just calls for a limerick-like ode.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 5 years ago

      I know!! It’s sooo bizarre!! hehe But was fun to sketch! 😃💕

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