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There's a Creature That Didn't Move for 2,569 Days

Researchers studied the olm over 8 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2020 10:45 AM CST

(Newser) – There's a kind of cave-dwelling salamander that a Hungarian scientist describes to the New Scientist as "hanging around, doing almost nothing." But "almost" might be a little too generous. A team led by Gergely Balazs of Eotvos Lorand University studied a group of olms found in Bosnia and Herzegovina over an eight-year period and discovered one didn't move at all—for 2,569 days. That's seven years. Their paper published in the Journal of Zoology is titled "Extreme Site Fidelity," an appropriate description of their finding that, in general, each individual olm clocks less than about 32 feet of movement over a decade. The Independent reports the white salamanders have little cause to move: They're blind, live in darkness, can go years without eating, and have no predators to avoid.

The only act that requires movement is mating, which happens every 12.5 years on average for females. "Most studies carried out on the species to date are based on laboratory studies," the researchers write, "resulting in a severe lack of ecological data from natural populations studied in their original habitat." They got that data—but not a ton of insight. "We cannot present any strong argument about the benefits of being sedentary or the costs/risks of moving over larger areas ... We can only speculate that animals feeding on a very low food supply ... reproducing sporadically ... and living for a century are very energy cautious and limit their movements to the minimum." (Read more discoveries stories.)

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