The Laziest Animal On Earth, 7 Years In Only One Place

Scientists have always been interested in the blind salamander’s endurance, but it now appears that it may live a long time because it has no life. The blind salamander (Proteus anguinus), often known as the olm, has the longest longevity of any amphibian, sometimes surviving to be over 70 years old in zoos and with an estimated maximum age of more than 100 years. It matures sexually in its fifteenth year and lays around 35 eggs every 12.5 years.

In the gloomy limestone caverns of southern Europe, the amphibian lives its whole existence in water.

It has atrophied eyes and nearly little skin pigmentation.

Because the blood appears through the skin, the olm is frequently referred to as the “human fish.”

The olm is a snake-like creature that may grow to be 25-30 cm long and weigh up to 20 grams. Most microscopic organisms have short lifespans, which is assumed to be owing to having higher metabolisms that effectively burn the creatures out faster, however, the olm has a metabolic rate that is comparable to its nearest cousins, which have significantly shorter lifespans. In addition, there is no exceptional antioxidant activity in the olm, which might explain its lifespan.


Since 1952, scientists at a cave station in Moulis, Saint-Girons, France, have been researching the olm, an en.dan.gered species. The cave is an exact replica of the olm’s native environment, and it is home to about 400 salamanders. It is the only successful amphibian breeding program, and the operation is run by France’s National Center for Scientific Research. Since 1958, data on fa.ta.lities and breeding activities have been collected at the cave station.

Yann Voituron, an ecophysiologist at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon, and colleagues have been researching salamanders to see why they live so long in comparison to their cousins.

Voituron stated that they would want to investigate the “typical genes related with increased longevity, and perhaps hope to uncover anything new.” They would also like to explore the organisms on a cellular level, such as their mitochondria, but this would require the animals, which they do not want to do because they have so few to deal with.

According to the scientists, the oldest residents of the cave are already at least 48 years old and most likely in their mid or late fifties, while the average lifetime in similar species is between 10 and 67 percent of the species’ greatest known longevity. This yields a conservative estimate of the olm’s maximum longevity of 102 years, or nearly double the maximum lifespan of other long-lived amphibians like the Japanese giant salamander, which has a maximum lifespan of 55 years.

According to Voituron, research has revealed that the olm is highly sedentary and only moves to feed and reproduce (which only happens every 12.5 years). Because there are no predators in the caverns, they live a stress-free existence.

The researchers believe that the salamander’s limited activity and altered physiology may be a strategy to minimize the generation of reactive oxygen species (which harm cells as they age) without increasing antioxidants or lowering the basal metabolic rate. The work, which was published online in the journal Royal Society Biology Letters, finds that the olm raises issues about aging and “appears to be a potential model” for studying mechanisms that inhibit aging processes in vertebrates.

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