Today some students at my Taiwanese school showed me to the marine lab where they keep all their experiments with animals.
KaiNan has been a bit it in the news around these parts lately because of their success in breeding these little animals. It's called an Axolotl and is on the verge of extinction.
Originally this creature was abundant in Mexico, but due to pollution and invasion by alien species it's now seldom spotted living wild anymore. They mainly live in laboratories and therefore it's now quite easy to find a lot of different species together.
Actually it's closely related to the salamander, but it's not really exactly the same still as this one has many peculiar traits. First of all is it's very noticeable external gills. These are the six little "red haired" extremities around their heads. Because of this, they also go under the name six horned dinosaurs (六角恐龍) in Chinese.
They're almost completely blind but can smell when something is near.
Such as when you feed them. You have to put the fish very close to their head to make them notice it though so I don't think they have a really good sense of smell either. It's no wonder to me that these went instinct partly because of invasion of alien species.
To stress it even further, they're not really very good at swallowing their prey either.
But then again: They spend most of their day lying on the bottom and doing nothing anyway, so I guess they don't have to eat too much to stay alive.
They come in many different colors and have an interesting texture around their belly. This one is alive indeed. His eyes are just colored yellow too.
This guy got his feet cut off. Actually they don't really use their feet too much to I doubt that he actually noticed.
Actually it's an experiment. His legs were cut off by humans because they're researching the feat that is probably the most interesting about Axolotls: Their ability to regenerate limbs. You can find a link to the Wikipedia article on them at the bottom of the blogpost where you can also read about their ability to regenerate non-vital parts of the brain or even integrate organs or limbs from other Axolotls. Quite amazing I think. We have something to learn from these helpless little creatures.
Now, the reason why KaiNan Highschool receives a lot of media attention is that they have developed away to more efficiently let the Axolotls breed. And so they breed a lot. KaiNan is planning to supply other schools and researching institutes with Axolotls in the future. Right now they've filled up almost the entirety of their water tanks with these rare creatures.
The Axolotls have many different appearances. Furthermore, KaiNan is researching their ability to change appearance depending their surroundings. I was told that they will develop dots and get a weak tint of coloring if they stay near a certain color for a long time - e.g. if you put a black or red rock into their tank.
Seems it's working out for this guy.
Now, time to get finished. I guess I wrote a lot again. Here's the Wikipedia link as promised:
There's also an online (English and Chinese) article about the exact same lab as I've taken these pictures in on Taipei Times:
So, I hope you had fun reading. You can go and grab some bigger version of the pictures by clicking them if you want an Axolotl as wallpaper on your desktop. Clicking them will also allow you to see some more pictures than the ones here on this blog as well as comment on each individual picture.