People around the world wait for rare "baby dragons" to hatch in Slovenia
A rare blind salamander in Slovenia has become a celebrity, as people around the world watch for its eggs to hatch.
Scientists in Slovenia are waiting for the eggs from the salamander, known as proteus or an olm, to hatch in a cave-based aquarium.
Stanley Sessions, a molecular biologist at Hartwick College in New York, tells As It Happens host Carol Off, "It's steeped in Slovenian mythology. When it was first discovered … people thought they were baby dragons."
Proteus only lay eggs once a decade, and there is intense scientific interest because there isn't a lot of data about how proteus reproduces.
This particular Proteus was not expected to lay eggs. Public interest has been so strong, staff at the aquarium has set up an infrared camera so that tourists can monitor the progress of the eggs.
Currently, the proteus has laid about 40 eggs. So far only 3 of them have shown signs of growth, "I'm afraid it's unlikely many of them will hatch," says Sessions, "We know probably half of them are going to die, it's too early to tell how many will make it."
The eggs that survive are expected to hatch in three to four months.