World awaits birth of ‘baby dragons’ in Slovenia

9 Mar 2016

Like something out of Game of Thrones, a female olm lizard in Slovenia is about to give birth, and people are getting rather excited about the arrival of a new litter of ‘baby dragons’.

Calling this the birth of ‘baby dragons’ is not 100pc accurate, obviously, but it is a fair comparison for the olm lizard, which is one of those real almost-mythical creatures that breeds only once every decade or so.

While you’d wonder how such a species hasn’t just died off quite quickly, the species’ ability to survive despite such low birth rates is largely down to the fact it can live for a century, quite easily, in deep caves away from other animal contact or in aquariums.

According to The Guardian, the olm is perhaps one of the strangest-looking lizards out there, largely due to the fact it has no eyes and a skin that eerily resembles our own.

This particular female olm had been living in an aquarium for some time, but following the accidental discovery of a white dot on the side of her tank in January, biologists swooped in to protect the olm and her eggs by removing other creatures from the tank.

In total, the olm laid 57 eggs, of which three have gone on to develop into likely hatchlings that will be due sometime this June.

This is an amazing achievement considering that olm eggs have rather poor rates of survivability, with them needing to survive for 120 days in order to mature properly.

The team of Slovenian biologists are so protective of the olm and her eggs, in fact, that no visitors are allowed anywhere near the aquarium tank.

Speaking of the rarity and importance of the likely birth, biologist Saso Weldt said: “This is something truly extraordinary.

“Nobody has ever witnessed (their) reproduction in nature. We even haven’t seen an animal younger than two years.”

Sadly for Game of Thrones fans, these humble, blind lizards will not be breathing fire, but they’re impressive all the same.

(Not) dragon eggs image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic