The Olm

This essay is about the Olm. There are multiple subspecies of Olms, but the most commonly known to scientists are the white olm and the black olm. The Scientific name for the Olm black Olm is (Proteus anguinus parkelj) and the scientific name for the white Olm is (Proteus anguinus anguinus). The Olm belongs to the Family Proteidae. Proteidae is an ancient family of salamanders comprised of just six different species. The common ones are the Olm, and mudpuppies and Waterdogs of North America. The lineage diverged from their closest relatives 190 million years ago in the early Jurassic period.

Olms are long slender salamanders that have four limbs, three toes on the fore limbs, and two on the hind limbs. They also have three pink gills on each side of their head. They have a snake like body with a short thin tale. Their head is sort of cone shaped with a flat nose. They have very good smell and they have an electro sensitive sixth sense. This helps them hunt and scavenge for whatever pray they can find. Sometimes they can go ten years without eating.

The black olm is among the rarest of all animals on earth and is only known to live in a 100 km sq. area in the Bela Krajina region of Slovenia. It is unknown the exact number of these animals, but it is very small. The white Olm is much more common. It is found in many parts of Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. It is even found in a very small part of North east Italy. The white Olm lives in underground submerged cave systems and rarely ever sees light. The black Olm lives in Doblicice Karast spring in Slovenia.

Besides where they live there are only a few differences. The biggest one is there appearance. White Olms are obviously white, and possess no skin pigment. They also have desensitized eyes covered in flaps of skin, so they can barely make out lite, sometimes they can’t at all. Some have skin over their eyes. This is an example of adaptation, because they don’t need eyes. They live in pitch dark waters their entire lives. Black Olms on the other hand have good working eyes because they have a use for them. They also have black skin pigment.

Black Olms are critically endangered where as white Olms are only Vulnerable. The population of White Olms is going down though because of one main factor. It is water pollution. This species is highly dependent on clean waters for gathering food, so pollution is a big problem.

The Olm ties back to many things in Chapter 1 in our text book. One thing is one of the ten themes of life. It is form and function. The black and white Olms are a great example of that. They used to be the same species, but over time they evolved according to their habitat. The black Olms eyes function better in its habitat then in the white Olms habitat. The White Olms lack of useful eyes function well in its habitat because it enables their other senses to be increased.

The Olms also relate to the text in the theme of life, Interaction with the Environment. It is similar to the last paragraph. Different species of animals react to different environments differently. They are all different in the way they interact with the environment, but they all still do it, including the Olms. Those are reasons my topic relates to what we’ve learned in class.

The Olm is a fascinating creature, and barely anyone knows about it. I’d bet that most of the people that read this have never even heard of it till now. It’s a cool animal.

This entry was written by Brandon F. and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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