Pupils Spot Aquatic Peter Pans At Deep Sea World

Axolotl at Deep Sea World

A group of primary schoolchildren has discovered a clutch of Critically Endangered salamander eggs during a visit to Deep Sea World, Scotland’s national aquarium.

Native to Mexico, axolotls are commonly described as aquatic ‘Peter Pans’ because they remain in their larval form and never grow up.

The North Queensferry aquarium put a group of the bizarre creatures on display in their Amazing Amphibians area late last year, however they had not expected them to start breeding.

Deep Sea World’s Catherine Gemmill said: “We were giving a guided tour to a group of pupils from Fetterangus Primary School in Peterhead when one of them spotted what they thought was frogspawn in a display.

“It turned out to be axolotl eggs and our aquarists have now placed them in a special quarantine tank in the hope they will hatch out. There are around 30 eggs and it’s very exciting as this is the first time the axolotls have bred since they arrived here in October last year.

“We’re keeping in touch with the school to let them know how they are developing as it was down to the eagle eyes of their pupils the eggs were spotted so quickly,” she added.

Axolotls have recently been classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ in their native Mexico where they are only found in the ancient water systems around Mexico City.

Just like other salamanders they start life as an egg which then develops into a tadpole with external gills and eventually legs.

However unlike other amphibians, which go on to develop lungs and move out of the water onto the land, for some reason the axolotl chooses to remain in its juvenile form.

It can live out the rest of its life in the water, growing to maturity and breeding while still in this juvenile phase.

Even stranger is the fact that throughout its life it maintains the ability to change into its adult stage, although this will only take place during periods of extreme drought when their watery homes literally disappear.

Axolotls can also re-grow lost limbs and tails as well as somehow re-generating dead or damaged brain and heart cells.

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