Dr. Robert Svoboda

April 2015:

“Axolotl” has long been a favorite word of mine (a near-rhyme with atlatl!), and during the latter portion of this month I hit the axolotl jackpot-l on a visit to the Santa Fe campus of St. John's College, whose mascot is, yes, the Fighting Axolotl:

http://www.sjc.edu/santa-fe/book/bookstore

It is a hard heart indeed that is not melted by the axolotl's frilly gills and mild smile. Bred in captivity at many centers now, as it almost if not completely extinct in the wild, this beatifically-beaming neotenic salamander inspires admirers into paroxyms of rhyme. Examples include:

http://www.wanderingherpetologist.com/m

and

The Axolotl

The axolotl
Looks a littl
Like the ozelotl,
Itl

"Drink a greatl
More than whatl
Fill the fatl
Whiskey bottl.

"The food it eatsl
Be no morsl:
Only meatsl
Drive its dorsl.

"Such an awfl Fish to kettl!" "You said a mawfl Pop'epetl!"

[McCord, David (1897-)]

At the other end of the size spectrum, Orabel and the OA family greet a new baby:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/elephant-

Take a look at the few remaining reindeer nomads:

http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/02/25/the-reindeer/

And on a smaller scale, consider the tick-steak relationship:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/can-ticks

It may in fact be the smallest life forms that have the biggest effect on our well-being:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/among-tr

For extra credit, consider the accumulating evidence that parasites may be sharing their DNA with us:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/0

and with other hosts:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/12061

Mammalian pregnancy may well be a result of “genomic parasites”:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01

If new plant species can arise via an asexual route, why not animals?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/14061

And what if sex evolved to maintain species stability, not to promote genetic diversity?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110

Perhaps for answers we should consult the little axolotl ...

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