Slovenia awaits birth of new generation of 'baby dragons'

POSTOJNA, Slovenia -- Slovenia is counting down the days until the birth of a new generation of "baby dragons."

Scientists in the Central European country have proudly announced that a female olm -- a Gollum-like, lizard-sized amphibian living in an aquarium in the country's biggest cave -- has laid eggs.

See Full Article

They have described it as the first example of observed out-of-lab breeding of the species.

The eyeless pink animal, known as the "baby dragon" and "human fish" for its skin-like colour, can live a century and breeds only once a decade -- usually in laboratories throughout Europe or deep in caves away from people.

Slovenian scientists have been ecstatic about the prospects of having baby olms born in Postojna Cave. The eggs are expected to hatch in about 100 days, or sometime in June.

"This is something truly extraordinary," said biologist Saso Weldt, who works at the cave in northwestern Slovenia. "Nobody has ever witnessed (their) reproduction in nature. We even haven't seen an animal younger than two years."

The olm was already in a big aquarium in the cave when the eggs were discovered by chance on Jan. 30 by a tour guide who noticed a little white dot attached to the fish tank's wall. A pregnant olm stood guard next to it, snapping at an intruder who tried to come close.

Scientists removed other inhabitants from the aquarium, leaving the mother alone with the eggs.

In the weeks that followed, the olm laid a total of 57 eggs, three of which seem to be developing. Biologists say this is a good number, as olm eggs have a poor record in actually lasting the 120 days that are needed for them to mature and hatch.

"Olms are not really successful when it comes to reproduction," Weldt explained.

Two years ago, a Postojna olm also laid eggs, but they fell prey to other cave inhabitants. So, this time biologists have isolated the female and her eggs in a dark spot, added extra oxygen and removed any outside influences.

A record number of visitors in February have been allowed nowhere near the mother and her eggs -- tourists could only view a live video screening via special infrared cameras that were installed near the aquarium.

Slovenians, some of whom are contemplating declaring the olm the next "Slovenian of the Year," have been keeping their fingers crossed.

"We did all that is in our power," biologist Weldt said. "Now we wait."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Waterton, Glacier parks get dark-sky designation

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WATERTON, Alta. -- A pair of sister parks straddling the border between Alberta and Montana have received a special designation. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, as the Canadian and U.S. parks are known, have received an International Dark Sky Park designation. Source
  • Robots boldly go where no one has gone before: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The robotic Cassini spacecraft that has been orbiting Saturn for the past 13 years began its final and most daring observation of the ringed planet by diving down through a small gap between the rings and the planet itself, a dangerous move never attempted by a spacecraft before. Source
  • Trump administration wins victory in effort to roll back Obama climate change efforts

    Tech & Science CBC News
    At the Trump administration's request, a federal appeals court agreed Friday to postpone a ruling on lawsuits challenging Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency had asked the court to put a hold on the case shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing officials to roll back the Clean Power Plan. Source
  • Facebook isn't doing enough to control violent posts, says expert

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeMeet the godfather of Canada's outlaw biker club, Satan's ChoiceWhat's life worth? Ken Feinberg on victim compensationFacebook isn't doing enough to control violent posts, says expertFull Episode Serena McKay was just 19 when she was killed in Sagkeeng First Nation in northern Manitoba. Source
  • Facebook preparing to fight political propaganda

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Facebook is acknowledging that governments or other malicious non-state actors are using its social network to influence political sentiment in ways that could affect national elections. It's a long way from CEO Mark Zuckerberg's assertion back in November that it was "pretty crazy" to think that false news on Facebook influenced the U.S. Source
  • A robot that picks apples? Replacing humans worries some

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SPOKANE, Wash. -- Harvesting Washington state's vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. Source
  • Humpback whale babies 'whisper' to their moms to avoid detection by predators

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Newborn humpback whales "whisper" to their mothers to avoid being detected by predators such as killer whales, new research suggests. Never captured before, the baby whale call recordings were collected using tags placed temporarily on the whales by a team of ecologists in Denmark, Australia and Scotland. Source
  • Scientists solve century-old mystery of Antarctica's Blood Falls

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It’s a mystery that has baffled scientists for more than a century; how salty, blood-red water is able to ooze out from a million-year-old glacier in a region known for its freezing temperatures. When explorer and geoscientist Griffith Taylor discovered a 54-kilometre long glacier in Antarctica that released a deep red liquid in 1911, he attributed the strange phenomenon to red algae colouring the moving water. Source
  • Robots and new technology take the stage in battle against invasive species

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A robot zaps and vacuums up venomous lionfish in Bermuda. A helicopter pelts Guam's trees with poison-baited dead mice to fight the voracious brown tree snake. A special boat with giant winglike nets stuns and catches Asian carp in the U.S. Source
  • British inventor demonstrates flying suit in Vancouver

    Tech & Science CTV News
    British inventor Richard Browning lifted off from the shore of Vancouver Harbour on Thursday in a personal flight suit that inspired references to comic superhero 'Iron Man.' Using thrusters attached to his arms and back, Browning flew in a circle and hovered a short distance from the ground, captivating attendees at a prestigious TED Conference. Source