Ambystoma Mexicanum, MD/ PhD

 

Ambystoma, or "Marty" to his friends, was born in Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City, Mexico. Fleeing encroaching development and the destruciton of his native habitat, he was smuggled across the border in a shipment of Patrón. He studied Biomedical Engineering as an undergraduate at Harvard, and completed his doctorate at Harvard Medical School. He now lends his expertise in limb regeneration to the Rajagopal Lab.

 

As of a 2010 assessment, Marty and his family are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as "critically endangered," meaning they face a very real danger of extinction in the wild. Axolotls are native to only two lakes in central Mexico, one of which has already been drained to avoid flooding and create new land for urban expansion. The other, Lake Xochimilco, has been carved up into canals and is significantly compromised by pollution. While Lake Xochimilco was declared a biological reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1980s, the wild axolotl population continues to decline.