Amphibians are indeed the most blessed among all vertebrates as they can live on both land and water and exhibit a cool range of locomotory movements. From breathing under water to crawling on the ground and hopping in the air, they can do it all. But recently, scientists found a rare species of salamanders that may not be making the best of both worlds.
Reportedly, Olms or Proteus anguinis, a blind cave salamander hailing from an underwater cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina has remained still for 2,569 days straight. In broad terms, that’s seven years and two weeks of not moving an inch from the same spot!
— Andy P. (@MummyComic) February 4, 2020
Although essentially blind, the olm salamander can do a lot despite leading such an extremely sedentary lifestyle. It can survive on a single meal for a decade and go on to live a hundred years. The only species of their genus, the Olm is almost resistant to starvation. It can slow down its metabolism and goes on an energy-saving mode for several years. It can also reproduce occasionally and has developed non-visual sensory systems such as touch, taste and hearing that help it to orient itself in its environment.
According to the study published in the Journal of Zoology, Olms inhabited underwater caves of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia sometime between 8.8 million and 20 million years ago. Researchers were able to observe several olms over eight years using a technique called ‘capture-mark-recapture’ so as to understand their lifestyle better. Apart from the ghost Olm salamander, most of the other ones monitored by the researchers barely moved either, having crawled or swam less than 10 meters in over a decade.
Olms, though entirely aquatic in nature, are extremely sensitive to light. They feature pale skin compelling them to dwell inside dark dungeons which is precisely why they’re nicknamed as ‘the human fish’. If exposed to sunlight, they would literally turn into ashes. The amphibians have sensitive lining on their ears that can pick up even the most minute vibration in water. And what do they eat? They prey on small shrimps and other aquatic animals using their remarkable acoustic senses!
Scientists note in their research that these salamander species are very vulnerable and make for ‘the best bio-indicator of habitat changing human activities’
Cover Image Credit: Twitter