Ax­olotl

World of Animals - - Wild Record-breakers -

Mex­i­can ‘wa­ter mon­sters’ are per­haps best known for their abil­ity to never grow up. While de­vel­op­ing, they can es­sen­tially hit the ‘pause’ but­ton when they reach ado­les­cence, yet they are still ca­pa­ble of re­pro­duc­tion.

Re­main­ing in their lar­val form seems to grant these su­perla­tive sala­man­ders ex­em­plary restora­tive pow­ers – they can re­gen­er­ate not just dam­aged limbs but also bones and even brain tis­sue. A 2018 study into the ge­net­ics that make this pos­si­ble re­vealed ax­olotl DNA com­prises 32 bil­lion base pairs – the largest known am­phib­ian genome. By com­par­i­son, the sum to­tal of a hu­man’s ge­netic ma­te­rial is around 3 bil­lion base pairs.

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