How a funny-looking creature could unlock the secrets of limb regeneration

The axolotl, also known as the Mexican salamander

In the world of funny-looking creatures, the Axolotl would have to rank in the top ten alongside such notables as the naked mole rat and the blob fish (the official mascot for the Ugly Animal Preservation Society). But the Axolotl does have one attribute that makes it attractive to more than just another Axolotl. That’s because this Mexican salamander has the ability to regenerate entire limbs.

Now, even as you read this, many stem cell researchers are hard at work trying to figure out ways to regenerate damaged or diseased tissues and organs in humans. That’s why the Axolotl is so intriguing. If we can understand how they are able to repair their own damaged limbs, maybe we can use that knowledge to help people repair or even replace a lost finger, hand or arm.

It’s a fascinating idea and one that is explored in this video from STAT, an online publication produced by the Boston Globe, that explores science and health.

It’s only four minutes long and is definitely worth watching. It shows that there is beauty in even the strangest creatures, if only you know what to look for.