June 2005 Archives

North Country public radio has a audio file from North Country Public Radion on the Eastern Red Spotted Newt audio file on the Eastern Red Spotted Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens, a common newt found in the Eastern United States, explaining the different life stages the newt goes through in a lifetime. The audio does a good job of explaining the basics and talking a little about the toxicity of the newt. I have question in regards to the audio explaining that the newts have gills when emerging from the egg. I will have to check on that...

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.

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axolotl and psychopomps

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I noticed on a news alert from Google that the axolotl colony previously housed at Indiana University has moved to the University of Kentucky. While the news on the move was not particularly fascinating to me, some information on an article related to the move was interesting, especially on how the Axolotl was a figure in Aztec mythology.

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.

The Minnesota Naturalists' Association Fall Conference "Interpreting the Night" will take place on November 18-20, 2005 and includes a presentation by John Moriarty on "Amphibians and Reptiles after Dark: Life Outside the Pond". [more information on the Minnesota Naturalists' Association]

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".