A strange creature that never truly grows up has taken centre stage at the SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Hunstanton.
Biologists at the centre have successfully hatched out around a dozen axolotis...a type of salamander that originates from a single lake in Mexico.
Like frogs, toads and newts, the axoloti is an amphibian...but unlike its relatives, it cannot survive comfortably out of water.
This is because when it reaches the half-way stage of the development process that in other amphibians goes from egg - to larva - to adult, the axoloti gets stuck.
′It´s as though the whole evolutionary process has stalled with this one amazing animal′, said aquarist Kyle Walker ′It stays in the larval form with very rudimentary lungs and remains completely aquatic throughout its life′.
And that is not the only remarkable thing about the extraordinary axoloti.
′They also have amazing self-healing abilities...able to re-grow a whole limb if they lose one to a predator′ said Kyle.
Officially an ′endangered species′ a number of projects are underway to release captive bred axolotis back to the wild to boost the wild population.
The Sanctuary has 13 adult axolotis including two albinos, and was able to induce them to spawn by lowering the water temperature in their tank.
′We transferred the eggs to a nursery tank in our new marine hospital and after 12 days they began to hatch out′.
′So far they´re feeding well on a kind of plankton soup, and some have started to grow their front legs′.
Sanctuary boss Nigel Croasdale said ′We´ve had many births here at the Sanctuary, from otter cubs to baby sharks, but the axolotis are probably the strangest creatures we´ve had born′.
For more details contact: Kyle Walker (Aquarist) on 01485 533576.
Press Release date: 14th June 2006