Most amphibians start out in water but grow up to live on land–but not axolotls. These astonishing salamanders don’t change the way other amphibians do. They stick to their watery habitat–freshwater channels and lakes near Mexico City–their whole lives, and hang on to their larval features, including their gills, the feathery structures on either side of the head.
Axolotls also have the amazing ability to regrow entire limbs. They experience no scarring, receive transplanted organs without rejecting them, and can even recover from injuries as grievous as a crushed spinal cord! Scientists are working to identify the genes involved in axolotls’ incredible regenerative abilities in hopes of one day applying what they learn to medicine.