Are you interested in learning more about the unique Metamorphosis of the Axolot? Axolotls are a type of Salamander – that exhibit an interesting phenomenon known as neoteny, which means that they retain their larval-characteristics into adulthood.
However, under certain circumstances, these aquatic creatures can undergo metamorphosis and transform into terrestrial adults.
In this text, I’ll delve deeper into the metamorphosis of axolotls, including the hormonal triggers, the potential benefits and drawbacks, and the regulatory aspects surrounding the use of hormones in inducing metamorphosis
Read also: Do Axolotls Live In The Ocean?
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Metamorphosis in Amphibians
Metamorphosis in amphibians is a typical transformation that comes with a change in habitat, and it turns aquatic larvae that breathe through their gills and skin into terrestrial adult animals that breathe through lungs.
Unlike the metamorphosis of many insects, the metamorphosis of amphibians does not include a resting stage comparable to that of the butterfly pupa.
Larval amphibians are forced to stop eating for the most part during the phase of the transformation of their organ systems, but they do not have significant resting periods during the metamorphosis.
The metamorphosis of these vertebrates is an ongoing developmental result that usually concludes with the move to land. Changes in environmental conditions (exogenous stimuli) or endogenous (internal to the animal’s body) causes such as a change in hormone levels can trigger the metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis in amphibians is a fascinating process of transformation, where aquatic larvae turn into terrestrial adult animals.
The axolotl, in particular, has an interesting ability to metamorphose through the use of the hormone thyroxin.
Read also: Are Axolotl Threatened With Extinction?
Thyroxin Hormone: Responsible for Axolotl Metamorphosis
Normally, amphibians undergo metamorphosis as they mature, transitioning from aquatic larvae to terrestrial adults.
However, axolotls are known to retain their larval features throughout their life, which is called Neoteny. This neotenic state is due to low levels of thyroid hormone, which inhibits metamorphosis in Axolotls.
But, if axolotls are given high levels of thyroid hormone – they can undergo metamorphosis and transform into a more terrestrial form.
Thyroxin hormone is responsible for initiating and regulating the metamorphosis of axolotls. Axolotls can fully metamorphose if they are externally administered with such thyroid hormones.
Small doses of thyroxine, triiodothyronine, or thyroid-stimulating hormone can lead to complete metamorphosis. The metamorphosed axolotl closely resembles the related tiger salamander in appearance and behavior.
Hormone administration is only successful during a particular life stage (semi-adult state). If given too early, the animal does not respond to the administration, and if given too late, only partial transformational changes occur and/or frequently result in the death of the animal.
Thyroxin and the Transformation of the Axolotls
Thyroxin is a hormone that is primarily secreted by the thyroid gland in vertebrates. It plays a crucial role in controlling metabolic processes in the body, including the regulation of body temperature, heart rate, and protein synthesis.
In amphibians, thyroxin hormone is responsible for initiating and regulating metamorphosis. The process of metamorphosis involves a dramatic transformation in body shape, physiology, and behavior, as well as the development of new organs and tissues.
In axolotls, the administration of thyroid hormones can lead to complete metamorphosis, which involves the development of limbs, the resorption of gills, and changes in the digestive and respiratory systems.
Important Reminder for Axolotl Owners
The administration of these substances is classified as an animal experiment by the authorities and requires approval from the responsible agency.
In the US, such approvals are only issued for strictly defined scientific projects! Unapproved animal experiments are punishable by law! In addition, the owner risks the life of their animal by performing such an intervention!
Spontaneous Metamorphosis and Environmental Change
There are few examples of axolotls that have gone through metamorphosis spontaneously without the artificial administration of a hormone preparation.
A transformation through changes in environmental conditions is NOT possible. An attempt in this direction violates animal welfare laws and is animal cruelty! This is also subject to criminal prosecution!
Neoteny and Parathormone
The axolotl neoteny is caused by a genetically determined under-supply of parathormone (thyroid hormone). The induction of metamorphosis using parathormone does not require exact dosing. The mere presence of this substance in an oversupply is entirely sufficient, and the source of the substance is also irrelevant. The substance itself is chemically identical in all vertebrates.
Axolotl Life after Metamorphosis
Metamorphosed axolotls are not less viable than their neotenic counterparts. They return to the water for reproduction and produce neotenic offspring.
The transformation of older animals is problematic. They rarely survive the metamorphosis compared to young animals.
Read also: Exploring Axolotl Genetics: The Fascinating Science Behind Eternal Larval Stage