While we are used to many of the creatures that inhabit our planet, there are some that continue to surprise us through their alien features. Some of these seem descended from mythological creatures of old, the reason many have not stopped their search for them even in our advanced age.
Today’s fairy tale in the news is about a mysterious cave in Slovenia where there are a couple of so-called dragon eggs that are about to hatch. Called by some the descendants of dragons, the olm salamander was discovered back in the 17th century, so it is not so surprising that they actually thought it was a fabled creature. However, as opposed to the mighty dragons, the olm barely reaches ten inches in length.
The olm is the only vertebrate species adapted to caves in Europe, and usually inhabits the eastern regions that include Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Since it lives underground in caves, the salamander does not feature eyelids gills and has gone completely blind. However, it does have gills, excellent hearing senses and can identify electric fields of other living beings. The magical aspect is not entirely suppressed since this creature has two amazing capabilities: it can live up to a hundred years and can survive without eating for consecutive years.
According to biologist Sašo Weldt who has been studying the unique amphibian,
“People had never seen it and didn’t know what it was. During the winter time, clouds of fog often rose from the cave, so they came up with stories of a dragon breathing fire from the cave, and they thought the olms were its babies.”
Olms rarely reproduce (every six-seven years), and the discovery of the 55 eggs that are about to hatch is exciting news for biologists. Unfortunately, most of these eggs will not hatch, but end up eaten by other olms.
At the moment, a team of researchers are closely monitoring the translucent eggs to ensure that as many as possible will hatch. The fact that the eggs are transparent permits them to better observe the evolution of the creatures. Until now, they have noted both the embryonic development and the cell division
It might take another four months for the baby dragons to emerge because the temperature of the cave has not yet warmed up with the arrival of the spring.
Image Source: Flickr
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