From eggs to juveniles

Developing from the egg to eight months old baby dragons. Photo: Iztok Medja

It has been a year since the moment that astonished and thrilled us, since the monumental event that marked the entire Postojna year and attracted a lot of attention all around the world. On Saturday, 30 January 2016, the first laid olm egg was noticed on the glass of Postojna Cave's aquarium.

Anniversary of the first laid egg

On the anniversary of this event, Marjan Batagelj, Chairman of the Management Board of the company Postojnska jama d. d., and Katja Dolenc Batagelj, Executive Marketing Manager and head of the team and the laboratory taking care of the 21 olm juveniles, presented the course of events in the past year, as well as the plans and expectations for the future.

If you click on this link , you can watch a 24-second morph video that presents the exciting year that was 2016 and the most important events in the development of eggs, hatchlings and, now, eight-month-old olms.

The video is composed of rare olm photos that were, by way of documenting the olms' life, taken every month. You can clearly see how the legs and the digits have developed, as well as the head, which was initially round and short, but is now shaped more like an elongated trapezoid with a snout resembling a duck's beak. The body is becoming increasingly long and slender. To sum it up, the olm juveniles are becoming more and more similar to their "dragon mum". Another thing that that sets them apart from the mother are two black eyes – which will remain visible until the olms are 2-3 years old, when they will get covered by a layer of skin – as well as pigmentation. In fact, "baby dragons" (as the olms have been nicknamed) are grey in colour. Almost their whole bodies, except the abdominal part, are covered in tiny dark specks, chromophores, which will gradually disappear by the time they turn 18 months. Then, the olm juveniles' colour will become pink. At the beginning, the olms were rather helpless, lying on the side and living on yolk stored in the abdominal area, and now they are proper little predators that can polish off their prey in a second.  

An outstandingly successful laboratory

According to experts, the result of hatching and the hatchlings' survival rate is extraordinary; by creating optimum conditions and through its dedicated care for the baby dragons, the Postojna cave laboratory has made a significant contribution to olm-related knowledge. This is a ground-breaking achievement in terms of successful olms' breeding in captivity and constitutes a departure from the cave laboratory paradigm that was used for decades, but has proven to be less successful. 

200th anniversary - atribute to Postojna Cave

In 2018 the Slovenia's greatest marvel Postojna Cave is celebrating 200 years of discovery of inner parts. Photo: Iztok Medja

This year will see the start of activities part of a variety of events that will take place at Postojna Cave  throughout 2018, when the cave is celebrating 200 years of organised cave tourism. In 2018, we will first pay tribute to Luka Čeč, a Postojna Cave lamplighter who discovered the most beautiful inner parts of Postojna Cave, followed by all other historical and cultural stories related to our magnificent subterranean marvel. The project has been named A Tribute to Postojna Cave (Poklon Postojnski jami). Each month of the year will feature a specific theme and special events. This will be an extraordinary event, a major organisational undertaking, and a special moment for Slovenia. Thus, we are counting on the Slovenian government and the Slovenian Tourist Board to work with us and aid us in organising the event, so we can jointly pay tribute to this natural marvel, which has – in the dark and silence – been part of our history, quietly recording everything we do for millennia. 

Source: Postojna Cave