The caves of Slovenia
Postojna Travel Blog› entry 2 of 19 › view all entries
April 4th, 2010 – by: Adrian_Liston
Postojna was beautiful, with rolling arid hills, deep blue water from glacier melt and charming rustic Slavic towns. We walked around for half an hour or so then entered the Postojna Caves, a 21.5km series of caves in a region with over 500 caves. In all of Slovenia there are over 9000 caves, some as deep as 1005 metres deep.
Speed was the theme of the day, and at the cave enterence they filed us onto a tourist train, which hurtled at surprising speed deep into the cave network. We passed chamber after chamber with just the flash of beautiful formations, plunging depths and staggering heights - made in quick glimpses as we kept an eye on the erratic roof level and ducked the occasional stalectite. After fifteen minutes on the train we reached the Great Mountain chamber, the heighest in the caves, at 20 metres above entry level and only 20 metres from the surface.
Within the Concert Hall they had a small vivarium where we could see the most famous of the 400 different cavernicolous species living in Postojna Caves, the Proteus. The Proteus was the first animal discovered to live in the deep caves and is endemic to the region. Once thought to be hatchling dragons, the Proteus is a luminescent white amphibian, related to salamanders and neuwts. It is the biggest of the cavernicolous species, growing up to 30cm long (most species in the caves are microscopic, only 20 are longer than 1cm). The Proteus is completely blind, with its degenerated eyes covered by a layer of skin. This is obviously no handicap in the cave environment, where the Proteus can live for over 100 years (going without food for up to five years at a time). In yet another damning indictment of creationism, in 1986 the “Black Proteus” was discovered, a closely related species more recently arrived in the caves, which has not yet lost its black pigment and still expends energy in developing (useless) eyes.
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