Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Long Live..the Salamander?

Olm - Yann Voituron
A story on Discovery.com highlights a small cave salamander named olm or Proteus, aka "the Human Fish" as its skin tone resembles ours.  Zookeepers have long noted its longevity, frequently 70 years or more.  It has been known to reach 100 years, all without the use of hormones and antibiotics!

Longevity is usually associated with large size and low-stress, stable environments without predators.  The olm reaches only 16", far smaller than many other salamanders.  Life in a cave certainly is less stressful than the outside world and there aren't a lot of creatures bigger than an olm down there.
Ocean Quahog- Hans Hillewaert

So what else is out there to top this record?  Another article from Discovery.com provides a top ten list that hasn't made Dave Letterman's show.  It includes the Warty Oreo (140 years) which looks nothing like the cookie of the same name, the Red Sea Urchin (200 years) and (I am not making this up) the Ocean Quahog at 400 years.

I would suggest you memorize this list to use the next time the conversation slows around dinner.   You are sure to be a big hit.

Special thanks to Charley Burwick for the tip.


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  2. Salamanders are so weird, starting with their slender bodies. There are around 500 species with that name, and them all are amphibians.