100 year old salamander

This video is called Olm (Proteus anguinis). Postoyna Caves, Slovenia.

From Discovery News:

‘Human Fish’ Breaks Lifespan Record

This small, blind salamander can live to be over 100 years old, easily outlasting other amphibians.

By Jennifer Viegas

Tue Jul 20, 2010 07:00 PM ET


* A small cave salamander, “the human fish,” has broken the world’s record for longest-lived amphibian.
* The salamander, which can live to over 100, is endangered, but reaches such advanced ages in zoos and protected environments.
* Future studies on this amphibian might shed light on what promotes longevity in the animal kingdom.

A small cave salamander, nicknamed “the human fish” because of its human-like skin tone, has just broken the world’s record for longest-lived amphibian, according to a new study.

The salamander, also called olm and Proteus, has a maximum lifespan of over 100 years, concludes the new study, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters. That’s nearly double the age of other often-elderly amphibians: the Japanese giant salamander (55 years), the African bullfrog (45 years), the common European toad (40 years) and the mudpuppy (34 years).

“Among amphibians the human fish is clearly the most long-lived species,” lead author Yann Voituron told Discovery News.

Voituron, a professor at Claude Bernard Lyon University, and his team calculated growth rates, generation times and the lifespan of olms living in a cave at Moulis, Saint-Girons, France. Since the 1950s, conservationists have established a breeding program there for the threatened salamanders.

In addition to determining the lifespan of the cave salamanders, the researchers found that this species becomes sexually mature at around age 16 and lays, on average, 35 eggs every 12.5 years.

“What promotes its longevity is probably very low activity, low reproduction, no environmental stress and its peculiar physiology,” Voituron said.

He described “the human fish” as having a snakelike body, up to 16 inches long. It is blind, with eyes regressed and covered by a layer of skin. The human-like skin tone derives from oxygen-rich blood that shows through the salamander’s non-pigmented skin.

It also looks unisex.

“The sexes are very similar in appearance, with males having a somewhat thicker cloaca (posterior opening) than females,” he said.

Scientists have been interested in the lifespan of this salamander for some time, since zookeepers started to notice that olms in exhibits would live to amazingly advanced ages, usually over 70 years.

Analysis of this, and other elderly animals, might shed light on what promotes longevity in general. The olm seems to fit a pattern, where long lives are dependent upon low-stress, stable environments without predators. Beyond that, however, the latest findings have researchers puzzled.

That’s because longevity used to be tied to relatively large animals. The previous age record-holder for amphibians, for example, was the Japanese giant salamander, which is the world’s second largest salamander, growing to nearly 5 feet and weighing over 55 pounds.

See also here. And here.

“Mudpuppy” salamander fails to make Vermont endangered list: here.

Photos: Ten Most Wanted “Extinct” Amphibians: here.

At more than five feet long, the Japanese Giant Salamander is one of the largest amphibians in the world. At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, biologists hope to breed the animals for the first time outside of Japan: here.

The Japanese Giant Salamander, Andrias japonicus, is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Growing to a total length of 150cm, this is the second largest amphibian in the world, surpassed only by its close relative the Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus. Endemic to Japan, it is found in small to large rivers in clear, cool, oxygenated water: here.

African bullfrog: here.

3 thoughts on “100 year old salamander

  1. Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010

    Largest giant salamander, 100, dies

    OKAYAMA (Kyodo) Japan’s largest-known giant salamander has died at the hot spring resort of Yubara in Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture, where it was reputed to be over 100 years old, local officials have said.

    The enormous amphibian, which had been on public display since 1971 at a giant salamander center in the town, probably died of old age, the officials said Friday.

    The salamander had not been properly measured or weighed in the presence of experts, so estimates of its length range from a conservative 1.5 meters to as long as 1.7 meters. It was said to weigh as much as 60 kg, but experts doubt that.

    Only several weeks ago, the salamander was given the name “Ryuu” in a ceremony attended by local elementary students, while at last weekend’s “hanzaki” (giant salamander) festival, an annual event in Maniwa, its immense size drew gasps from awed visitors.

    Takeyoshi Tochimoto, who has studied giant salamanders for decades, said the timing of the death is unfortunate as there were plans to have it accurately measured during an annual meeting of giant salamander experts to be held Sept. 11-12 in Yubara.



  2. Pingback: Cave salamander discoveries in Montenegro and Bosnia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Rare amphibian babies hatching in Slovenian cave | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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