Axolotls are also named after the Ancient Aztec god, Xolotl. He was the god of fire, lightning, sickness, and deformities. He was depicted as a dog like creature, and was tasked with dragging the sun through the underworld at night. He was also the dark personification of Venus, the evening star, and the twin of Quetzalcoatl.
The Aztec believed Xolotl traveled with his brother, Quetzalcoatl to Mictlan, the underworld, to retrieve the bones of an extinct race of beings that inhabited the previous world. Tricking the goddess of Mictlan, Mictlantecuhtli, into letting him drag the bones up to the world of light. Thus, with the help of the gods of heaven, humankind born.
One legend says the god, Xolotl, got mixed up in the political affairs of the other gods and feared he would be banished or loss his life. He decided to transform himself into an Axolotl to elude capture. The ancient Aztec believed that, due to the Axolotls strange look and regenerative powers, Axolotls were the manifestation of the god Xolotl and resemble the lake system that sustained them, many Aztec thought Axolotls were a gift of food, supplied for them in this lake system.
Today, Axolotls exist in the wild only in this lake complex called Xochimilco (pronounced SO-chee-MILL-koh) in Mexico. Due to the lake system shrinking (parts drained to reduce flooding), parts being contaminated with waste, garbage, industrial fertilizers, and the introduction of carp and tilapia which compete for food and eat Axolotl eggs, the wild Axolotl is considered endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In 1987, this lake system was declared a World Heritage Site in the effort to save its beautiful canals and the ecosystem including the Axolotl. The National Autonomous University in Mexico is working hard to help the Axolotls in the wild. They are educating locals on conservation, working with the municipality to resume the removal the tilapia and carp, & created five experimental canals, with the plan of more, where they are breeding the Axolotl in the natural habitat (breeding in cavity and releasing would reduce genetic variability and increase risks of disease and fungus). These canals have rocks and reedy plants to keep out non-native Asian carp and African tilapia who compete for food as well as eat Axolotl eggs and the canals also pumps in cleaner water to create a better living environment. Even though efforts have been made to help the Axolotl population, none were found in a recent 3 month survey of the lake system done by National Autonomous University in Mexico. Although, biologists believe they may have caught a glimpse of a few Axolotl in the southern outskirts of Mexico City.
These creatures were not only cherished by the ancient Aztecs, but today by researchers who are interested in the Axolotl's ability to regenerate limbs, tail, damaged parts of its lungs, heart, spinal cord, and brain. They are also treasured by many pet owners who have found the uniqueness of their bizarre alien-like appearance, bold personality, and appealing facial expressions to be unlike any other creature.http://aztec-axolotls.webs.com/