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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Cave-dwelling ‘baby dragons’ go on display for first time in Slovenia

In a bid to protect the creatures and gather more information about them, cave authorities kept them far from visitors in a cave laboratory, according to a report by The Guardian.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 13, 2020 8:20:15 pm
A baby dragon. (Source: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP)

Tourists visiting Slovenia’s famous Postojna caves will soon be able to see three extremely rare aquatic creatures, popularly known as ‘baby dragons’, Reuters reported on Friday. Officially called olms, these creatures earned their nickname during medieval times, when locals believed that they were descendants of dragons due to their lizard-like appearance.

The three juvenile ‘olms’, as they are officially called, will be kept in a special subterranean aquarium where the general public will be able to see them for the first time since they hatched in 2016.

“We are proud to present three out of the 21 baby olms, the world-famous ‘dragon’s offspring’, which we have kept a close eye on since 2016,” Postojna cave authorities said in a statement. Only 30 visitors per day will be allowed to see the underwater predators in the flesh, according to the statement.

The three going on display are among 21 offspring that hatched in 2016 when one of the Olms at the cave lay around 60 eggs. Given that the average Olm lays eggs only once or twice in a decade, the mystifying ‘baby dragons’ at Postojna caves have been closely monitored since their birth.

In a bid to protect the creatures and gather more information about them, cave authorities kept them far from visitors in a cave laboratory, according to a report by The Guardian.

These pale pink eel-like creatures are completely blind and are often called ‘human fish’ because of their long thin bodies and four legs. Olms are found exclusively in the waters of dark caves in the southern European Karst region. They can grow up to a foot in length, making them the world’s largest cave-dwelling animals.

The creatures earned their nickname during the medieval times, when locals believed that they were descendants of dragons due to their lizard-like appearance. Researchers claim that the olms have been living in Postjona cave for over a million years, AFP reported.

The ‘baby dragons’ are being put on display only days after the cave — a prominent tourist hotspot in Slovenia — was reopened after three months of closure due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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