In the world, there are very rare animals that few people manage to see live. The so-called European Proteus (Proteus anguinus) are very similar to long lizards but are actually amphibian creatures. All their lives they have been in the larval stage and mainly live in the dark caves of Slovenia. They are amazing because they can live up to 100 years, but out of 500 eggs, only a couple of adults usually develop. Here is another reason for their extreme rarity – they reproduce only every 5-10 years. In January 2016, scientists managed to capture the birth of these creatures on camera and now they have grown. You can look at them now, but only by going into the cave in which they live. Only 30 people are allowed there daily.
Unusual animals and the strict conditions of their visit were described in the scientific publication Science Alert. Unusual animals were discovered in the system of caves of Postojnska-Yam, more than 20 thousand meters long. Four years ago, a pregnant female Proteus was discovered in its vicinity, which was about to lay eggs. Since these creatures are on the verge of extinction and very rarely reproduce, people provided her with the most comfortable conditions for childbirth. The main thing that they did was removed from it other proteas that could destroy the offspring.
For more than two weeks, the female laid 52 eggs. Unfortunately, 29 of them turned out to be fertilized, but in all the others there were clear signs of development. 124 days after the laying of eggs, the first larvae began to appear. Subsequently, from all these eggs only three larvae hatched, but they successfully developed to a more or less adult state. Since recently, the Slovenian cave has been opened to visitors, but not everyone can look at tiny creatures. Every day, only 30 people are allowed into the cave, which may result in long lines.
It is logical to assume that tiny creatures are inaccessible to a wide range of people because they are very rare and are under strict protection. Indeed, if you let a lot of people into the cave, something terrible could happen to the creatures. Preserving the life of proteas is important not only to maintain the biodiversity of our planet – researchers are still actively exploring these creatures. Perhaps the results of one of the scientific works will help them restore their population.
The slowest animal
Given the coronavirus pandemic, I suppose that few of our readers will have the opportunity to see these amazing and in their own way cute creatures. So let’s just watch a video with them and remember some interesting facts. Let’s start with their size – their length reaches a maximum of 35 centimeters. Despite their small bodies, the inhabitants of Slovenia have long called them “olm dragons”.
Also, these creatures are sometimes called “human fish” because their bodies are painted in the color of human skin. But the skin-colored shell has some transparency and through it you can see the internal organs. Usually, individuals develop in dark caves, but if for some reason they were exposed to the light, their bodies take on a darker color. It is important to clarify that the larvae can develop exclusively in places with streams and lakes – they can not do without water. Proteus are not independently selected from caves, because for them it is a clear death. But sometimes they are washed out by the rivers and especially often this occurs during heavy rains.
Proteins feed on small crustaceans and worms. They also rarely get out of the water to land, only when it is very important for them to breathe air. They use the lungs for breathing, but air alone is not enough for the – water is also important. Therefore, if they somehow find themselves on land, they are quickly overtaken by death. These are such fragile creatures, whose safety must be constantly monitored.
In conclusion, we can say that Proteus is the laziest animals on our planet. While the well-known sloths (Folivora) move at least to eat and go to the toilet, these creatures lead a predominantly immobile lifestyle. Scientists learned about this during the experiment – they caught 19 adult proteas, tagged their tails, and released them into the wild. After eight years, they checked the location of the animals and found out that for all this time they moved only 10 meters. One individual, in general, sat in the same place for about seven years in a row.
Since we are talking about the most lazy animal, I recommend you read the material about the fastest animals. In it, my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova walked overland animals, fish, birds and insects that are capable of developing very high speeds. It turned out a very detailed and informative article, which will be interesting to read to everyone!