French Axolotls

It is no real secret that I am an axolotl fan- my only two tattoos are of axolotls (we’ll have a tattoo posting once I can get a satisfactory photo of Hector, the axie on my foot). I am doing a guest lecture in a development class tomorrow, and since I was given no topic and the students are observing axolotl embryo growth, I figured I would give them the history of axolotls in science. Which brings me to this artifact.

This is a video from 1913, made by the French collectors of axolotls. This is amazingly old for a scientific video… Or at least a surviving scientific video. While it is not exactly Science Art, this video is a little piece of axolotl history!

For those who didn't have the patience to watch the film, enjoy this brochure cover.

For those who didn’t have the patience to watch the film, enjoy this brochure cover.

For those who aren’t axolotl geeks like myself: in the mid 1800s, a French journalist brought a bunch (a bunch = 34) of axolotl specimen back from a trip to Mexico. In 1863, 6 of these animals were given to August Duméril who was an enthusiastic biologist. He bred the heck out of them and studied them intensely, discovering their various color morphs and interesting properties such as neoteny and regeneration. Thus began the long and fruitful career of the axolotl in science. These little dudes are incredibly important to medical research (especially immune, neurobiological, and reproductive research). They are also the cutest animal EVER and they are my conservation icon. I love them.

So… French axolotls.

le axolotl