I've finally checked on whether gills are present in the larval stage. Wikipedia states that the Red-Spotted Newt "larva possesses gills and does not leave the pond environment where it was hatched. Larvae are brown-green in color, and shed their gills when they transform into the terrestrial red eft" so indeed the newt does have gills in the larval stage.
June 2005 Archives
In an Aztec language, "atl" means water, and "xolotl" means dog but "xolotl" also refers to a figure in Aztec mythology, Xolotl. Often depicted as a skeleton or dog-faced, Xolotl was a psychopomp or a god or goddess who escorts deceased souls to there final resting place. According to the mythology, Xolotl turned into an axolotl to avoid capture and was killed while in this form.
The Aztec often used the axolotl for food and according to Wikipedia axolotl can still be purchased in markets in Mexico today.
For those of you outside of Minnesota not familar with John Moriarty, he co-authored with Barney Oldfield the most commonly referenced field guide on Minnesota Herps (which I highly recommend!), "Amphibians and Reptiles Native to Minnesota".