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Slovenia: what are the ‘baby dragons’ found in the depths of Europe all about

Did you ever hear about the ‘baby dragon‘? These small animals are also known as proteos and can be found inside the Postojna cave, located approximately one hour from the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. Even in the place, there is a railway to be able to move from one place to another and appreciate these wonderful species.

This cave is known to the people who have lived in the area for centuries, because it has graffiti dated 1213. However, it was not until 1818, that it was inaugurated after the visit of Francisco I of Austria, the last Holy Emperor. Germanic Roman Empire. Since that date, the most remote places of this cave have been visited by more than 35 million tourists.

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The main characteristic of the cave is that it is approximately 24 kilometers long between chambers and tunnels. Through the line of a train, you can travel the first two to the Congress Hall, where the Milan Symphony Orchestra performed in 1930. Afterwards. The tour must be done on foot, through a path that passes through six geological strata, a bridge built by prisoners from the First World War.


The depth of the path reaches 115 meters with nooks and crannies one meter wide. In the depths of the cave, live a species of blind salamanders, also called “Olms”. According to CNN, these types of animals are not found anywhere else in the world. Among its characteristics, its 25 centimeters long stand out and they do not develop.

“It is the largest among cave-dwelling animals and the only vertebrate in Europe strictly linked to cave habitats. It is fully adapted to life in the dark. It feeds on crustaceans, worms, snails, and other aquatic invertebrates. It has a useful life of up to one hundred years and can go several years without eating ”, indicates about these species the official website of the cave.


It was the residents of Postojna, who dubbed them ‘baby dragon’ because they were dragged out of the cave after a series of floods occurred. And since they are popularly the ‘home’ of dragons, they could be their young. Currently, they are in an aquarium inside the cave. They are also known as human fish due to their appearance.


Baby dragons can live underwater and instead of scales, they have white and pink skin. In addition, they have fingers on their limbs. According to Primoz Gnezda, a biologist who has been studying proteuses for years, they are sensitive to vibrations since they have a strong sense of hearing. “The proteos in the cave tank hear you, they get scared and adopt their positions of safety”, mentions.


The experts noticed a strange behavior of a female of this species at the beginning of 2016, as it had become more territorial, due to the fact that it was protecting an egg. Given this, he was moved to a separate place and continued to lay eggs for the next eight weeks. There were 64 eggs that were counted, but only 21 managed to survive. Today, two of the little ones are in the aquarium.


One of the peculiarities of this species is that it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a male or a female through their DNA. “Now we are trying to distinguish between the sexes by analyzing their blood and checking the hormonal ratios”, said the researcher. Proteos have a striking biological rarity as they remain in their youth and then begin to multiply.


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