The Cave-Dwelling Baby Dragons of Slovenia

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
May 28 2014 11:44 AM

The Cave-Dwelling Baby Dragons of Slovenia

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

The limestone labyrinth that is Slovenia's Postojna Cave is home to a most unusual animal. The olm (Proteus anguinus) is also known as the human fish, the baby dragon, and, in Slovenian, "močeril." (Translation: "the one that burrows into wetness.")

Olms are entirely aquatic and only found in the waters of caves in the Dinaric Alps—that is, parts of Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, and Herzegovina. They measure 8 to 12 inches long and have non-pigmented skin that is unnervingly reminiscent of white humans' flesh. The eyes of the olm are covered in a layer of skin, but that is no impediment—the species, having adapted to live in dark caves, is blind.


Your average olm lives for around 50 years. Not a bad run, considering axolotls get 15 years if they're lucky and stay out of trouble.

If you'd like to see one of these marvelous baby dragons up close, take a Proteus-focused tour of Postojna Cave. You'll get to see the olm's natural habitat and the creatures themselves in the on-site aquarium.

Olms in the Postojna Cave aquarium.

Photo: Isaac Bordas/Creative Commons

Other places on Daenerys Targaryen's bucket list:

View Postojnska jama Cave Grotte Höhle in a larger map


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.