Blind Salamander Discovered Motionless For More Than 2,000 Days
Thu, October 21, 2021

Blind Salamander Discovered Motionless For More Than 2,000 Days

 

Salamanders are particularly known for having a long lifespan -- they can live up to more than a century. Scientists have become interested in their way of life and how they can survive that long. A recent study published in the Journal of Zoology focused on one species of salamander: the olm (Proteus anguinus). What makes this species especially interesting is that the olm are blnd and barely move more than 3 feet in over a decade. In fact, the team observed one lazy olm that didn’t move for 2,569 days. 

 

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

 

The researchers studied an olm population, focusing on those living in aquatic cave systems, in the eastern Herzegovinian region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they saw on the news or read in history books, the team identified a total of 19 individual olms in the underwater caves. They tracked the species’ movements over an extended period using a “capture-mark-recapture” technique. This technique allowed them to keep up with the seldom-slithering creatures over several years. 

 

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

 

The olms had very little activity during those times. “They are hanging around, doing almost nothing,” lead author Gergely Balázs of Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. According to the team, the most active olm they observed had only traveled 125 feet in 230 days while most moved 16 feet per year on average. They concluded that the olms’ lack of movement is due to olms being “very energy cautious and limit their movements to the minimum.”

The findings of the study showed that the olms can go years without needing to eat due to their metabolism. They rely on limited options, typically small crustaceans like shrimp and snails. They can live in absolute darkness for their entire lives, which makes their senses more sensitive. The olms have a remarkable way of adapting to the extreme scarcity of calories: using as little energy as possible. 

 

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons

 

The team aims to understand their adaptation and habitat because it can shed important light on extreme adaptation in an animal population. “The low reproductive activity of the species together with the reported extreme site fidelity makes this top predator of aquatic cave communities highly vulnerable and a sensitive bio-indicator of habitat-changing human activities,” the researchers said.

 

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