No popular experimental animal is more misunderstood or more diversely treated taxonomically than the axolotl.
No popular experimental animal is more misunderstood and none has been more diversely treated taxonomically than the axolotl, a frequently neotenic Mexican salamander properly known at all stages of its life as Ambystoma mexicanum. The misconceptions made evident include application of the common name, the taxonomic status of the population to which the name “axolotl” is properly applied, the proper scientific and generic names for the axolotl, the proper name for the larval as opposed to the adult stage, the degree of neoteny occurring, and the cause for transformation.
Larvae of other ambystomids, such as the larval stage of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, are often erroneously referred to as axolotls. The name, “axolotl,” should be used only when referring to Ambystoma mexicanum and not to any other ambystomid salamander.
Historically, the Mexican axolotl has been listed under more than 40 different names and spellings; all, except Ambystoma tigrinum, have been rejected by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).