The olm (Proteus anguinus), also referred to as a cave salamander or even a sea dragon, is Europe's only cave-adapted vertebrate, according to the Zoological Society of London. Though the dragons cannot see, as skin covers their eyes, their hidden peepers can still sense light. To hunt without sight in the dark world of a cave, olms have extraordinary senses, including that of taste, smell, hearing and electrosensitivity, according to the zoological society.
Here a female olm resides in an aquarium at Slovenia's Postojna Cave.
"With their unusual looks, they have been exciting people's imagination for centuries, and it was once believed that they were baby dragons which the high tide brought to the surface," according to a statement from the Cave.
It's an ... Egg!
Watching an olm
Apparently the female olm fiercely guarded her single egg. When another olm swam over to the duo, the female responded with her mouth. "The pregnant female responded rather impetuously and bit the intruders' side, thus scaring it away," wrote staff at the Postojna Cave. To keep the pregnant female from launching more attacks and to ensure the egg stayed safe, the staff captured and removed the other six olms from the aquarium.
Waiting with eggs
Unfortunately, the staff said, cave amphipods (small crustaceans) continue to try to grab the developing eggs, which the mother-to-be is stepping up to protect: "Despite her lack of vision, the olm has (so far) successfully scared away all of the subterranean intruders. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the 'Dragon Mom' to make it," staff wrote in a statement.