The Slovenia Times

The First "Baby Dragon" Has Been Born


Exactly four months after one of their female olms laid its first egg in a Postojna Cave aquarium.

Although both science and researchers' previous experience gave almost zero chance that the drama unfolding in the cave aquarium would have a happy ending - that the olm eggs would hatch, people in Postojna cave had faith it would happen. They kept a close eye on the offspring, monitored the eggs, linked scientific findings to their own observations. They were often confused and unsure, but they had to make decisions that no one had ever made before.

Olms are simply too big of a mystery, partly because they live their mysterious lives in the depths of caves, in total darkness, completely hidden from humans. According to the statistics, a mere two baby olms successfully hatch from 500 eggs in nature. But their hope and desire to do everything they possibly could were stronger than the lack of experience and everything that they had no answer to.

But the story does not end here, because there are twenty-two more eggs from which baby dragons can hatch. The total number of eggs that were laid was sixty-four. They are now keeping a close eye on the eggs to see which one will be next to hatch. Which one will be their next baby dragon? Will it - like the first one - shoot out of the envelope and swim around the aquarium, before finally coming to rest at the bottom? This was another complete surprise, since the rare existing olm-related literature reports about several embryos' attempts to break through the envelope. Well, their first baby dragon managed to shoot into life in a single attempt. This is one of the reasons why the infrared camera footage is invaluable heritage both for biologists and the general public; in fact, olm hatching has never been filmed before.

However, for them the most difficult period is only just starting. The larva will soon need to be fed, as it does not live in its natural environment where it could feed on its own. They will also need to regularly, on a daily basis, change the water to avoid infection. And if there are several larvae, each of them will need to be in its own aquarium. They will have to set up a proper little nursery for each of them. And if all goes well, the baby dragons will grow into adults. Although they may not breathe fire, this will be the right time for the fireworks.


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