Today’s Google Doodle Is A Fun Little Game About An Endangered Amphibian

Today’s Google Doodle is a celebration of Lake Xochimilco, a natural lake near Mexico City that is also the last remaining habitat for the axolotl, a species related to the salamander. These little guys are actually super cute and often seem like they’re smiling.

They are also important for medical research because of their unique ability to regenerate limbs, gills and – remarkably – even parts of the eyes and brain. You can imagine the possibilities for advances in medicine.

Today’s Google Doodle is a colorful little photography game where you point and click to take pictures of these cute little creatures. The goal is to find all five different axolotls, and every time you take another photo, you’ll get a little treat like this:

Via Google:

Today’s interactive Doodle celebrates Lake Xochimilco, a natural lake near Mexico City the last one remaining native habitat for axolotls (relatives of salamanders) in the world. The lake was once home to the ancient Aztec civilization during the 15th century, and eventually the owners of the land in the colonial period took over the occupation of the lake. On this day in 1920, the Mexican government returned Lake Xochimilco to the locals. Lake Xochimilco now serves as a recreation site, cultural attraction, and home to a rare species of axolotl.

Because of the unique landscape of Lake Xochimilco, local farmers have adopted the ancient it gave me cultivation method, which includes artificial floating gardens. These chinaamperos (or farmers) grow hundreds of different aquatic plants, from common vegetables to medicinal herbs, in nutrient-rich soil. It is also a popular destination for rowing and kayaking – cruising in colorful wooden boats called you train is essential fun on the lake.

Lake Xochimilco is currently the last remaining natural habitat on Earth for axolotls, freshwater salamanders that live in water instead of on land. Their mouths are permanently turned into a gentle smile, and they can regenerate limbs, gills, and even parts of their eyes and brain! Unfortunately, these sensitive creatures were listed as a critically endangered species in 2008.

Legend has it that their namesake – the Aztec god of fire and lightning, Xolotl – disguised himself as a salamander to avoid sacrifice. The axolotl is so culturally revered in Mexico that the Bank of Mexico added a salamander to the 50 peso note in 2021.

Today, many are working to protect Lake Xochimilco after years of pollution, invasive species, man-made disturbances and other obstacles have harmed the axolotl ecosystem. Locally chinaamperos actively restoring their lands with better fertilizers and water filters to preserve these creatures that have become an integral part of their identity and way of life.

I don’t know about you, but I learned something today.

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