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Olm – Proteus anguinus Laurenti
The olm (Proteus anguinus) is an endemic amphibian (Amphibia) inhabiting groundwaters and caves of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. It has recently been recorded in caves in Germany and France, where it was artificially introduced.
It is recognisable by its spindly, colourless body; rounded, pear-shaped head; external gills; and feet with three tiny toes. It does not undergo full metamorphosis during development, that is, the adult specimen retains certain larval features (neoteny). It reaches a maximum length of 40 cm. Most of the locations where olms have been seen are in Popovo Polje and the surrounding areas.
The Cave Fauna exhibition displays a specimen caught on 21 May 1895 in Studenci near Ljubuški. The olm is an endangered species, protected by the Bern Convention and the European Habitats Directive.