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SCIENCE BRIEFING

'Water monster' on threatened-species list

November 08, 2008|Times Staff and Wire Reports

The axolotl, also known as the "water monster" and the "Mexican walking fish," was a key part of Aztec legend and diet but is now threatened with extinction.

Against all odds, it survived until now amid Mexico City's urban sprawl in the polluted canals of Lake Xochimilco, now a Venice-style destination for revelers poled along by Mexican gondoliers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the axolotl on its annual Red List of threatened species, and researchers say it could disappear in just five years.

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