Tuesday, April 28, 2020

X is for Xolotl (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Status: Critically endangered

How Xolotl became an axolotl
Aztec myth

The god Xolotl was the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. He was the god of Venus, fire, lightning, sickness, and monstrosities. He guarded the Sun as it traveled across the Underworld every night, and he similarly guarded the souls on their journey into the afterlife. He gained this role after he descended into the Underworld together with his brother to retrieve the bones of the people of an earlier world, and use them to create the humans we are today. 
When the Fifth Sun was created (see the Volcano rabbits post two days ago), initially it didn't move. The God of Winds then started sacrificing all the other gods to make the Sun move forward. Xolotl did not want to be killed, so he turned himself first into maize, then into a maguey plant (giving these two important food sources to the people), then into an axolotl and threw himself into Lake Xochimilco (now the only lake axolotls can be found in). In some versions of the myth he was captured and killed anyway, while in others he avoided his fate by hiding as this strange, magical amphibian ever since. 

Sources: Read about Xoloth here, here, here, or here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here or here.
Plus here is a video about how to correctly pronounce axolotl.

What being would you turn into to avoid death?


  1. They look like tadpoles on steroids! Interesting origin story for them.

  2. Oh wow, what a strange amphibian! Cute face ;) Thanks for sharing this tale!
    X is for…

  3. Wow! As we come to odd letters like X - was looking forward to see if animals & legends exist for them. Your research to hunt out unheard of -animals is amazing.

  4. Interesting story! And typically gruesome, the Aztecs really believed in sacrificing!

  5. Learning something new every day on your blog Csenge.
    Thank you.

  6. I love these guys! And I think it was a good move to avoid the sun-moving sacrifice, because throwing all the gods into the fire is really not a sustainable energy source.
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  7. Getting the sun moving was an important thing to accomplish! Some could say Xolotl was a coward to avoid such a noble sacrifice! (I don't think I will ever be able to type "noble" without thinking of Trump's gaffe!)
    Axolotls are such odd animals. While they are endangered in the wild, they are quite common as pets in the US, and maybe other countries as far as I know.
    They are bred though, not taken from the wild.

  8. Oh what a strange looking creature - with those plant-like bits as epaulets. It's perfect they have such an interesting origin story.

  9. Fascinating creature...lovely story.Thanks!

  10. Another new creature! Interesting story.

    An A-Z of Faerie: Fates