Two hatchlings have happened on a cave in Slovenia, and the scientific community is thrilled. The so-called ‘baby dragons’ are a rare salamander species that reproduces every five to ten years and according to researchers they can live up to a hundred.
These lizards are known as ‘baby dragons’ but their scientific name is olm or Proteus, and are a very rare species in Slovenia. Olms belong to the Proteidae family that only live in caves and ponds of Europe.
These rare, pale and blind salamanders were first found in 1689 after torrential rains washed the olms from underground waters and found by tourists.
For the past four months, researchers have been working on the Postojna Cave located in Slovenia after a researcher found an egg attached to the touristic wall. Since then 64 eggs were found, but only 23 survived and had been under observation ever since.
All of the eggs were proven to be laid by a single mother salamander; that is currently in a safe location guarded by the researchers. The scientific world is fascinated to observe the process of hatching of these ‘baby dragons’ since is a very rare event.
Baby dragons on the Postojna cave
Two years ago a batch of eggs was growing inside the Postojna cave, but the eggs never hatched thanks to another predator in the cave. That’s why researchers decided to isolate the mother and remove the eggs to a secure location.
The Postojna Cave announced the birth of the first two olms on their Facebook page by writing “ We got our first Baby Dragon,” and there are now 21 more eggs to hatch.
In a video caught by an infrared camera, the baby dragon it’s seen wiggling out of its egg, according to BBC News researchers missed the historical moment but were able to observe it thanks to the camera records.
“I was in the cave doing some other biological work. Since we have all the eggs on an IR camera, we saw that one was missing. Then you rewind, and suddenly you realize, something has happened,” said Sado Weldt, a biologist that studies olms at the cave.
Weldt along with his colleagues and the staff of the Postojna cave have been doing some research with experts to determine the best way to care for the fragile amphibians.
It is also a very rare event that 23 eggs survived the first stages of development, according to experts in a non-secure environment of 500 eggs only two will survive into adulthood. In Slovenia, dragons are very appreciated myths, and it is believed that olms are babies of these legends.
In fact, olms have been around human nature for so long that Charles Darwin wrote about them in 1859 when he published his Origin of Species, Darwin used olms untrained eyes to explain natural selection in the world.
Researchers are triggered to see the next 21 eggs hatch and observe this rare creature develop into adults.
Source: BBC News