Proteus

It’s an amphibious, a distant salamander relative, that represents one of the most surprising adaptations of life in caves. It lives in caves in the Oriental Mediterranean area, in Dalmazia, Slovenia and in the Carso triestino and goriziano part. It is 20-30 centimetres long, pinkish colour and extended form, with a long tail and 4 small paws (that have 3 anterior fingers and 2 posterior), that aren’t though able to sustain it, so the proteus can’t walk but can swim. When it is born it has developed eyes, but these, during the growth, regress completely. Their particularity are the red whorls of the gills on the sides of the muzzle, that remain in the adult stage too. The proteus doesn’t complete his metamorphosis and remains at the larva status, which is young, all life long: it is practically an eternal baby… Many underground biospeleology labs that rear them so they can study them better, but it is difficult for them to reproduce in captivity. In 1832, Alberto Parolini who is a naturalist introduced a few specimen in the Oliero caves, near by Vicenza , where the specie was absent. There weren’t any news on the introduced proteus and they thought these species didn’t survive, but in 1965 a few speleolosubs in the Cogol fount of Veci had an extraordinary meeting with different specimen that, evidently, adapted and reproduced, and now it frequent for the speleologists that immerse into the Olieri fount to see these funny small animals. This demonstrates the big adaptability these animals have and they hope it is possible to reinsert it in zones originally presented, but where they disappeared later on, often because of the water pollution.
A vulnerable environment
A cave environment, for it’s nature and for the modalities superficial waters enters and moves, is a delicate ambient and very vulnerable to pollution. Their inhabitants, so sensible to small variations around them, are then in big danger.
Only a serious and a focusing environment political can maintain intact this particular ambient and fauna, that for a million years they adapt slowly to very tough life conditions in the world underground. Do we want to help out the mysterious, strange, curious and useful inhabitants of the caves too?

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Facts

  • 13 May 2011

    Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

    Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...

    A walk underground

    The longest caves in the world are in Kentucky, the caves of Mammoth...

  • 24 February 2011

    And in underground tunnels?

    There are groups of terrestrial animals that eat insects, worms and other invertebrates...

    13 May 2011

    The climate underground

    Going down deep in the Earth’s crust, the temperatures increase gradually...

  • Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

  • Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...