If you haven’t heard of the salamander, you must have at least seen a photograph of this friendly amphibian with a peculiar appearance. Unfortunately, it is currently on the world’s endangered species list.
The salamander has been and continues to be fundamental in Mexican culture as the protagonist of legends, books and stories. Its name refers to the twin brother of the god Quetzalcoatl, called Xólotl, a deity associated with life and movement.
Legend has it that Xolotl, cowed after a request from other gods and in the face of their refusal to carry out the errand, ended up fleeing into the water in the form of an axolotl. He ended up being caught and killed.
The Mexican salamander
The ajolote is a species of large salamander or lizard, an amphibian with a friendly appearance. Unfortunately for the animal world, it is on Mexico’s long list of endangered animals. This is due to multiple factors, from pollution to climate change. Although they can be found in most of the world, their origin is in the Valley of Mexico, in Xochimilco.
What does a salamander look like? Well, they have external gills and a caudal fin. They are also noted for their large heads and lidless eyes. In addition, their limbs are extremely short with long fingers. These physical characteristics are due to the fact that it is a species highly adapted to water.
El ajolote de bebé
Baby salamanders have virtually the same appearance as in their adult stage. Moreover, when the species was first discovered, it was believed that they were actually tiger salamander larvae that had yet to complete their metamorphosis, something that was eventually determined to be a mistaken belief.
Salamanders have long been a regular feature of animation and drawing. The famous muralist Diego Rivera has immortalized it on occasion. It has also served as inspiration to create Pokemon animals or even for the most recent main character of How to Train Your Dragon, Toothless, a Dreamworks movie.
Another incredible project is that of Bichosmexicanos, originally from the south of Mexico City and led by illustrator Mario Flores. In this project you can find adorable works of art made by Flores, in which a cartoon of an endemic animal is the representation of a state of the Mexican country.
Black garlic snappers
Although it may seem that the most common salamanders are pink, they are actually a mutation of the brown color of the wild species.
It is true that black salamanders or salamanders with a lot of melanin are typical of Xochimilco. You should also know the origin of its name: in Nahuatl axolotl could be translated as ”monster or water toy”, since its appearance at the beginning was more feared than adored.