Axolotl Salamander is the world's cutest animal
The Axolotl Salamander has won gapyear.com's 'cutest animal' award
After a debate at gapyear.com HQ, sparked by the relative cuteness of Boo, the world's cutest dog, we set out to find the world's cutest and most awesome animal.
After an arduous process which saw the controversial axeing of many small, fluffy, smiley creatures; such as the Holland Lop bunny, the Philippine Tarsier and numerous nominees from the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee; a short list of the cutest and coolest reptiles, mammals, fish and amphibians was drawn up and tested.
"Look at his smiley little face," "how can he even be real?" and "where can I get me one of those?" These were just a few of the many positive responses given by a test group who 'oohed' and 'awwed' as they melted at the sight of Big Ben the Axolotl Salamander (featured in the image above).
Despite some early cuteness competition from the Sea Otter (an animal which sleeps whilst holding its little paws together and also has the world's densest fur) the smiley face of the Axolotl salamander emerged a clear and undisputed winner.
3 reasons the Axolotl Salamander is more awesome than your kitten
What makes him so frickin' cool?
He can grow back legs and internal organs...
While some degree of limb regeneration is seen in a number of other salamanders, Axolotl can regenerate his tail, legs, jaws, skin, some internal organs, and even his spinal cord. He can do this again and again, hundreds of times if required. Mittens might be said to have 9 lives, but I'd like to see her try that.
Like the 'lost boys' in Peter Pan, he never grows up...
Amphibians normally undergo two changes in their lifetime, one from eggs to larva and one from larva to adult form. The Axolotl is unique in it that it retains its larval features throughout its life, a condition evolutionary biologists refer to as neoteny, providing him with his Pokémon-like cuteness. This is the same condition dog breeders select for when creating those little handbag dogs, but is rarely seen in nature.
He has little need to worry about the "c" word...
Cancer. It's something poor little Mittens is sadly prone to. She needs to live a healthy life and avoid carcinogens. On the other hand, Axolotl has amazing regenerating cells that make him a thousand times more resistant to cancer than most mammals. He can do what he wants, when he wants.
Whilst scientists are doing their best to repopulate the Axolotl, it is sadly on the endangered species list. If you're looking to see a wild Axolotl on your gap year travels, you'll need to look for one of the 1000 remaining in central Mexico, around Mexico city.
Do you agree that Axolotl is the cutest and most awesome animal on the planet? Would you have chosen a different animal?
Pop a comment in the box below and let us know your thoughts, we may just make this an annual award...