"XOCHIMILCO, Mexico City -- The ancient waterways upon which the Aztec Empire was built are now a fraction of their former glory. Sucked dry by Spanish conquerors and subsequent urban planners, Mexico City’s great lake is now little more than a network of canals in Xochimilco, a borough in the city’s far south.
Hidden underneath the murky water, sharing space with discarded soda cans and empty potato-chip bags, an ageless 'water monster' called the axolotl, a central figure in Aztec legend and a protein-rich part of the diet then, is also vanishing.
The creature is a type of salamander boasting a tuft of featherlike gills on its head and a 'smile' that makes it seem more like a stuffed animal than a slimy amphibian."
Sara Miller Llana reports for the Christian Science Monitor January 12, 2010.