|Common Nicknames||Xochimilco, Ajolote, Axzo’salomeh, Walking FIsh, Se’aeniella|
The Axolotl is one of the strangest creatures known to Aloria and is the vexation of many a scholar. Based upon appearance the Axolotl looks like and resembles an alien-looking fish with small legs that enable it to walk or run along the bottom of riverbeds. For centuries scholars miscategorized it as being a type of fish, but this is not true. Later scholars recategorized the Axolotl under a different name as the larval form of some salamanders native to Daen, but that also wasn’t entirely correct. In fact, the Axolotl isn’t a fish, and isn’t the larval form of a salamander but is its own unique species. While it resembles a developing salamander, the Axolotl stays in this ‘larval’ state its entire life up until eventually expiring from old age. Sadly, the numbers of the Axolotl are decreasing drastically in the wild as the rampant growth of civilization has caused significant ecological damage in the delicate conditions that the Axolotl is native to. Most recorded Axolotl are kept in captivity either by scholars investigating their properties in alchemy and biology or as pets to people who prefer exotic creatures.
Axolotl are speculated to be an ancient species that date back even to the time before the Allorn Empire or were brought about roughly at its beginning. The first recorded instances of Axolotl were documented by a group of fishermen who had caught a particularly large Axolotl and brought it back to their village where it was paraded about as a bizarre curiosity. Albeit from that point onward not much research was truly done into the Axolotl’s biology or lifecycle. At the time, the Altalar were content to fish up Axolotl and eat them as a local delicacy, treating them like any other variety of fish while some kept them in aquariums as exotic and bizarre-looking pets.
Centuries later the true nature of the Axolotl would be revealed as a young and aspiring Altalar scholar took a rather vested interest in marine biology, and the Axolotl and its odd almost alien features. He bought around ten specimens from local fishermen and contained each in separate tanks where he conducted various different documented experiments to determine the origins and biology of the little creatures among many others. He recategorized the Axolotl as being not a fish, but a type of amphibian and placed it within the same category as a different species of salamander that was also native to Daen during the height of the Allorn Empire. Albeit incorrect in his categorization, he did discover one of the most interesting facets of the Axolotl that would draw the attention of scholars and alchemists alike worldwide: The Axolotl could in fact regenerate missing limbs. Medical professionals and alchemists alike both agree that the Axolotl could be a potential means to researching limb regeneration but the technology to formulate ‘how’ just isn’t currently available and may never truly be--as only time will tell.
Later, however, the Axolotl would receive its just dues when an aging Ailor scholar picked up a few Axolotl of his own to conduct experiments to see if he could unravel their mystery and medicinal applications. While he never was able to unearth its potential in medical science, he did discover, recategorized, and renamed the Axolotl to its modern classification as being a member of his own unique species and was in fact inherently different from other local salamanders. The Axolotl never left its fully aquatic state that so many other species of salamander do and instead stays aquatic its entire life. Despite being technically a type of amphibian, the Axolotl can only survive out of water for a total of five minutes before beginning to expire and as such must remain submerged.
Now in modern history, the Axolotl serves as a center point to many alchemists seeking to advance modern medicine through limb and tissue regeneration, but with minimal success thus far. To the wider public, however, the Axolotl is seen as some exotic and bizarre pet kept by wealthy owners who want to challenge themselves with something more rare and intriguing than the standard goldfish. Unfortunately, most documented Axolotl are actually in captivity, either in the care of aforementioned scholars and pet owners, as their natural habitats were lost in the wake of deforestation and draining of once-great lakes, and some were even destroyed in earthquakes brought about by the Wildering. Some bastions of their species do exist in remaining great lakes, rivers, and difficult to traverse swamps where their numbers are slowly rising back to their previous prior to the fall of the Allorn Empire and Cataclysm.
The Axolotl appears similar to a fish with legs and features of a salamander, albeit one not fully developed. Axolotl share similarities with other salamanders in that they begin life as tadpoles until they grow their legs, but that is where the similarities stop. Axolotl retains the larval state that other amphibians metamorphosis from. In appearance, all Axolotl share similar qualities; smooth skin, branching gills that stretch outward from the sides of their head, and a long-finned tail with webbed fingers. Axolotl features vary greatly from region to region in terms of patterns and size, with some variants in size being as large as a dog and others as small as an Ailor finger.
All Axolotl share some level of sexual dimorphism. Females have a much more rounder and plumper body shape while males tend to be much longer and larger than females. Various different regions across Daen boast their own unique variant of the Axolotl and each possesses different colors, different sizes, and temperaments. Below are the listed Axolotl that can be found.
- Common Axolotl: The standard variant of Axolotl that can be found in most bodies of water across Daen, however, their populations have greatly diminished by comparison to their original numbers. Out of subtypes, the Common branch resembles most-like real-life Axolotl in color palette and weight distribution, which is roughly around ten ounces. While in length they can reach up to a foot, approximately twelve inches, but some larger exceptions have existed.
- El ajolote de Jorge: The name of this subtype roughly translates to Jorge’s Axolotl in Daendroque and is similarly named after the Ailor scholar who propagated their existence in captivity through selective breeding and only appears in modern history. Unlike other variants, Jorge’s Axolotl grows roughly up to the length of a human index finger and weighs a fraction of what the common variant does. They also come in a much wider array of vibrant colors after years of selective breeding. Some examples include; dull blue, red, purple, pink, and very pale lime green. Some small wild pockets of Jorge’s Axolotl do exist; some scholars who bred and kept their own saw fit to release them as part of an experiment in the wild to see how they would serve from years of being separated from their ancestor’s natural habitat. They in fact thrived and fulfilled the niche of insectivores picking off small water-dwelling insects.
- Deep-lake Axolotl: The deep-lake variant is significantly larger than its common counterpart and equally far rarer. This variant exists only in the largest and deepest lakes distributed across the supercontinent of Daen. Their slimy skin is almost always a shade of dark brown or even black while their bodies can reach up to roughly two feet in length and they weigh twice as much as their more common cousins that occupy more shallow waters. Males of the deep-lake variety have some documented cases of growing up to three feet long and being hyper carnivorous.
- Hadar Axolotl: The Hadarian variant of the Axolotl is the largest and rarest to see on the world-wide theatre, only a few wealthy menageries are in possession of them outside of the Allar who regularly tend to keep them as pets. The Hadarian variant can reach the length and size of some dogs while weighing similarly. Color-wise, the Hadarian variant comes in different shades of yellow or gold and resides in deep pits of water where they swallow fish whole. One exception exists in that the Hadar variant is uniquely suited to also exist in saltwater and coral reefs, it is said to have a rough almost sandpaper-like quality to its skin as opposed to the slimy texture of its cousins.
Life Span and Development
Female Axolotls congregate around dense underwater foliage to lay an enormous amount of eegs with the expectation that many of them will not survive into adulthood. Most species of Axolotl will in fact consume and devour its siblings if they’re small enough. Those who do live long enough exist as tadpoles and gradually develop in size over a period of twelve months, during this time they will form their iconic appendages. Developing Axolotls are known to be some of the most voracious creatures, vacuuming in anything small enough to fit in their mouth straight into the bowels of their stomach to propagate their rapid growth. Many scholars and pet owners marvel at the cycle of growth and many charts of it exist in various different bestiary texts. While it is true that the Axolotl can regenerate limbs, they’re not immortal and all instances of Axolotls can live for up to fifteen years regardless of their size except for Jorge’s Axolotl which may only live for up to five years before expiring from old age.
Alorian Axolotls are rather dull animals that behave similarly to other species of Salamander or even fish. Though one of the stranger things to observe is their voracious appetite despite appearing so innocent and cute in appearance. Indeed, some Alorian Axolotls display hyper-carnivorous tendencies depending on their subtype, with the Deep-lake displaying the most aggressive behavior, yet no documented cases of attacks on sentient races exist. Wild Axolotls are incredibly skittish and will swiftly dart away if exposed or pursued by anything larger than themselves, except for the Hadarian variant, which is generally large enough to attack a person but doesn’t, as people are not small enough to be swallowed whole.
Territory and Groupings
Axolotls are incredibly territorial towards one another and often it’s not possible to house more than a pair at a time, and even then it can be risky. Axolotls prefer to live in lakes and are native solely to the lakes and rivers of Daen and parts of Hadar. One Axolotl dominates its own food supply and area in the water and they only ever come together loosely for the purpose of producing more Axolotl. The Hadar holds a unique exception that separates it from most variants of Axolotl in that it possesses some adaptations that enable it to live within saltwater conditions. These deviants can be found living in the coral reefs preying upon small fish and sometimes small sharks.
- The variant of Axolotl known as Axzo’salomeh in Hadar hasn’t suffered the ravages of history like its smaller cousins across the more northern reaches of Daen, as the Allar have no use for the scientific applications of the Axolotl. Instead, Axolotl are often kept as pets.
- There’s a rumor that at the bottom of one secluded lake in Daen exists a leviathan Deep-lake Axolotl that has grown so large that it can crush small rowboats and potentially swallow people whole, but there is no evidence to suggest that such a creature exists. Scholars do theorize that it ‘could’ be possible, as there is a plentiful enough supply of food to support a few of these territorial potential leviathans.