"Forever Young"

It is obvious that to be “forever young” is many people’s dream. For that reason, “forever young” a very popular subject for creative or literary works. Look at the three different songs by the same name "Forever Young", sung by Alphaville, Bob Dylan and Rod Steward respectively. Look at Mel Gibson's film "Forever Young". Look at Peter Pan.

But how is it like to be forever young? Ask this question to the little creature in the picture below and he will tell you it is not as romantic as you think.

In fact, the species, called axoltyl, may have to pay the heavy price of extinction for staying forever young.

Here are some facts about this highly unusual animal:

  • Axolotl is a kind of salamander that lives in Mexico.

  • It spends its whole life underwater in its larval form and never undergoes metamorphosis.

  • It is able to regenerate its body parts.

  • It is estimated that there are now only between 700 and 1,200 axolotls in the Xochimilco area of the Mexican Central Valley, their last stronghold in the wild.

  • Its population has declined alarmingly in the last decade, from about 6,000 axolotls per square kilometre in the Xochimilco in 1998 to around 1,000 in 2004 to just about 100 in 2008 – a 60-fold reduction in about ten years. The main reason for this dramatic reduction in number is urbanisation of the axolotl’s natural habitat and deterioration of water quality.

  • There are captive colonies of axolotls in different places of the world, but scientists do not think reintroducing them to the wild is a good idea as it reduces the genetic variability and increases the chance of disease.

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