One Olms Salamander Stayed Still For Seven Years

It's hard for humans to imagine staying still for days at a time, much less for years. One species of salamander called an olm is the record holder for doing nothing. Researchers studying the salamander say that the creatures can go without eating or moving for years. One specimen, in particular, didn't move for 2,569 days, which is about seven years.

Scientists from the UK and Hungary studied the olms that live in caves in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Over ten years, the creatures moved less than 32 feet in total. The salamanders are blind and can live for up to a century underwater in complete darkness. One key to the ability of the creatures to lie still for so long is that they have no natural predators.

That means as they lay still for years at a time, nothing is going to sneak up and eat them. The olm can slow its metabolism to the point where it can survive off a single meal for a decade. When they do eat, the creatures eat small shrimp and snails.

Since they are blind, they capture their prey using their acute hearing capabilities. Olms will also wake up to mate, typically once every 12.5 years. Divers have studied the creature for over eight years in their natural habitat of the underwater caves. Divers collected data by catching the creatures by hand and then marking them and putting them back in the same spot they were captured.

The team found during their research on movements and spatial patterns that the amphibians weren't doing much of anything. The creature is the top predator in the cave ecosystem. It's highly vulnerable due to a low reproductive rate and sedentary nature to changing habitats. Researchers also noted the importance of understanding the human impact on the ecosystem and the creatures that live in them.