Friday, June 6, 2014

Toothless and the Axolotl

We love the How to Train Your Dragon movie. Love, love, love! When Build-A-Bear had their limited edition Toothless, we made one the first day. We watched the show Riders/Defenders of Berk on Cartoon Network every week. I'm really sad that they are moving it to Netflix, I like having things on the DVR more than streaming with the buffering issues... but I digress. The sequel comes out next week..

needless to say, we will be first in line to see it! But first, I want to make a quick observation about Toothless. By now everyone probably knows that Toothless looks a lot like Stitch from Disney Lilo and Stitch because it's the same animator/directors. But has anyone ever noticed how much Toothless looks like an axolotl? In case you've never seen an axolotl (aka Mexican Salamander, though axolotl means water monster which, I think, is a much more impressive name) I refer you to this comparison of Toothless and Mr. Axolotl.

They could be cousins!  Both have projections from their flattened melon shaped heads, mouths that appear toothless, and distinctive eyes. Toothless has ears and who knows what the other things are supposed to be coming off of his head. But, in the axolotl's case these projections are actually gills that allow the salamander to live in the water. Axolotl's are aquatic salamanders, they become adults without undergoing metamorphosis which would lead to the abandoning the larval tadpole-like stage. This is why they retain their tail and caudal fin. They have teeth but they are very small and not fully developed, due to the lack of complete metamorphosis. Toothless on the other hand has retractable teeth.

Obviously, there are couple of glaring differences.. Toothless has wings, can fly and shoot fire. He looks super strong, where Mr. Axolotl looks weak and puny. But I would like to share with you how incredibly awesome these water-dwelling salamanders are! Like starfish, they can regenerate limbs. Unlike starfish, they have bones that must be involved in this regeneration process. But not only that, axolotls can also regenerate their spinal cord should it be nicked or severed. There are scientists right now trying to identify the physiological process by which they do this to see if we can apply that ability to humans. With this level of regeneration I think we need to rename these guys from Mexican Salamander to The Wolverine.

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