What is Lake Xochimilco and axolotl? The unique landmark celebrated in Google Doodle

What is Lake Xochimilco and axolotl? The unique landmark celebrated in Google Doodle
Google IO Highlights New AI Features

The Google Doodle has celebrated diverse figures like photographer Corky Lee to German actress Renate Krößner recently, and now it's turned its attention to something entirely different.

Today (May 20), it’s all about a rare animal and its natural habitat, with the search engine launching a new initiative with an interactive doodle.

Lake Xochimilco in Mexico and the rare axolotl are being celebrated today, with Google shedding light on the exotic animal and effort to protect it.

The axolotl is a species of salamander which is paedomorphic – retaining its juvenile features as an adult. Its closest relative is the tiger salamander, and the rare special can only be found in very specific places around the world.

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One of them is Lake Xochimilco.

Google’s description reads: “Today’s interactive Doodle celebrates Lake Xochimilco, a natural lake near Mexico City that is the last remaining native habitat for axolotls in the world (cousins of the salamander).


“The lake was once home to the ancient Aztec civilization during the 15th century, and eventually landowners in the colonial period took over occupation of the lake. On this day in 1920, the Mexican government returned Lake Xochimilco back to the locals. Lake Xochimilco now serves as a recreational site, cultural attraction, and home to the rare axolotl species.”

It continues: “Due to Lake Xochimilco’s unique landscape, local farmers adopted the ancient chinampa farming method, which involves artificial floating gardens. These chinamperos (or farmers) grow hundreds of different aquatic plants, from common vegetables to medicinal herbs, in the nutrient-rich soil. It’s also a popular destination for rowing and kayaking — cruising on colorful, wooden boats called trijaneras is an essential pastime on the lake.

“Lake Xochimilco is also currently the last remaining native habitat on Earth for axolotls, fresh-water salamanders that live in the water instead of on land. Their mouths are permanently upturned into a slight smile, and they can regenerate limbs, gills, and even parts of their eyes and brains! Unfortunately, these delicate creatures were listed as a critically endangered species in 2008.”

The doodle celebrates the rare axolotl iStock

“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 the salamander to the country’s 50-peso bill 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. Local chinamperos have been 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.”

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