LYON, France, July 22 (UPI) — A rare foot-long salamander dubbed “the human fish” because of its flesh-like skin can live for 100 years, much longer than any other amphibian, scientists say.
The long, tubular-shaped olm salamander is found in caves in Croatia and Slovenia, and French scientists are studying a group of them, Wired magazine reported Thursday.
Biologist Yann Voituron of France’s Universite Claude Bernard is studying a population of olms established 48 years ago to help preserve the rare creatures, the magazine said.
When the study project began, the olms were about 10 years old, making them nearly 60 now.
But they “do not show any time of senescence (deterioration with age),” say researchers, who estimate the average lifespan of the animals at 69 years with an upper limit of 100 years.
A stable environment without predators has made it possible for the olms in the study to have long lives, but the secret to their longevity is unknown.
Generally, long life is linked to large body size, but the half-pound salamanders are tiny compared to the next-longest-lived amphibian, the 50-pound Japanese salamander, which has a 55-year lifespan, Wired said.
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