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It\'s a boy! Or maybe a girl...

03.06.2016 | Fiona Thompson

After a tense wait for staff at Postojnska jama, comes the news that on Wednesday two baby human fish hatched from their eggs.

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The announcement is significant because this mysterious creature, also known as an olm or cave salamander, is under threat due to pollution of the water in the subterranean environment in which human fish dwell.

The human fish lives only in the depths of the karst caves of Slovenia and Croatia and its fascinating characteristics have developed so it can exist in this challenging environment. Because they live continually in the dark, human fish are blind but they compensate by having an acute sense of smell and experts believe that they can even detect magnetic fields.

It is believed that the human fish can live as long as one hundred years, though a maximum age of around 70 is more probable. What is known, is that the cave salamander can go without food for ten years if necessary and survives by shutting down its metabolism to conserve energy.

The human fish is an important part of Slovene folklore: while they can only be seen today in the vivarium at the Postojna Cave complex, in the past they were sometimes flushed out of the caves during periods of heavy rain and our medieval ancestors who saw them were convinced they were baby dragons and that there must be larger parent dragons lurking inside the caves.

So the staff at Postojna may well be raising a glass of fizz to celebrate the new arrivals, but perhaps they should make that a Humanfish beer instead? One of Slovenia's most popular craft breweries is named after this most secretive of creatures!



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