All rights reserved. With gills that flare out when submersed, the salamander looks similar to the axolotl , a relative. Related: read about the hellbender, a giant U. In , Gerardo Garcia, who is also the curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the Chester Zoo in England, visited Mexico while working on a breeding program for threatened freshwater fish.
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All rights reserved. With gills that flare out when submersed, the salamander looks similar to the axolotl , a relative.
Related: read about the hellbender, a giant U. In , Gerardo Garcia, who is also the curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at the Chester Zoo in England, visited Mexico while working on a breeding program for threatened freshwater fish. For the past years, the nuns in the convent had been sustainably raising the rare salamanders. The amphibians are a crucial ingredient in a mysterious medicine the convent makes that is believed to cure coughs, asthma, and anemia, so the women breed the animals in order to keep their tradition alive.
Of the 23 nuns in the convent, three or four live and work at the breeding facility at a time to take care of the animals. The facility is made up of two large rooms filled with tanks that can hold up to salamanders.
The nuns feed organic earthworms to the amphibians and use a nearby well to change their water regularly. You almost create an ideal environment for the endangered species. December 31, —A new program in Japan is helping giant salamanders get past dams built to control flooding so the rare amphibians can lay their eggs upstream.
In addition to the everyday needs of the salamanders, the nuns measure and microchip the animals, as well as pair them up for breeding. But Garcia says the population at the convent is the most viable because the salamanders live the closest to their native environment. The closer they are to the lake, the less likely the animals are to be exposed to alien pathogens. Related: read about the biggest amphibian on Earth. The researchers must make sure the species can thrive in captivity before they begin slowly releasing a few individuals to see how they fare outdoors.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified salamanders as lizards; salamanders are a type of amphibian, whereas lizards are a type of reptile.
Nuns Resurrect Endangered Salamanders in First-of-its-Kind Conservation Effort This may be the first time a religious group has been involved in amphibian breeding program, an expert says. By Elaina Zachos. Giant Salamanders Helped to Spawn December 31, —A new program in Japan is helping giant salamanders get past dams built to control flooding so the rare amphibians can lay their eggs upstream. Continue Reading.
Achoque (Ambystoma dumerilii) project
September 13, Rolling up the sleeves of her immaculate white habit, Sister Ofelia Morales Francisco plunges her hands into an aquarium, grabs a large, slimy salamander and lifts it dripping into the air. The nun is part of a team at a Dominican convent in Mexico that is fighting to save the Lake Patzcuaro salamander, a critically endangered species. Revered as a god by the indigenous Purepecha people and keenly studied by scientists, the salamander—known for its stunning ability to regenerate its body parts—is found in the wild in only one place: the lake near the Convent of Our Immaculate Lady of Health, in the western town of Patzcuaro. They have launched a program to raise the salamanders in captivity, and hope their efforts will one day help the species —Ambystoma dumerilii—make a comeback in the wild. It is a job that has required the nuns to step outside their routine of charity and prayer, and get their hands dirty in a field they knew little about at first. That meant, for example, mastering the reproductive habits of the dark green salamanders, which are distinguished by a flowing mane of gills around their heads.
Lake Patzcuaro salamander
The Lake Patzcuaro salamander , locally known as achoque , Ambystoma dumerilii , is a neotenic salamander species. This is located in the Mesa Central region of the country, home to many isolated Ambystoma species. Dumerilii retain their larval characters throughout their entire life. This results in adults that have long, heavily filamented external gills , gill slits lined with tooth-like gill rakers, and caudal fins.
Nuns get hands dirty, and wet, to save Mexico salamander