Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When looking for excitement, we rarely think outside the box. For example, when I was trying to think of a topic for this blog post I kept going through places I wanted to travel to someday. I was thinking about mountains, oceans, and historic places, but then it hit me. I was only looking from the surface up, while there’s a whole other world underneath us.

Caves are technically defined as “natural underground voids large enough for humans to enter.” They are formed in a process known as speleogenesis, where erosion from water, tectonic forces, microorganisms, pressure, atmospheric influences, and animal digging all play a role.

Yet most caves are formed in limestone by another process titled dissociation where traces of carbon dioxide are mixed with water creating carbonic acid. This new chemical breaks down the calcium carbonate within the limestone.

Though they may look like barren hollows meant only for the likes of Satan, a unique diversity of animals make their homes in caves. Animal species that are limited to a cave habitat are called troglobites. The majority of these animals have developed certain characteristics, labeled troglomorfies, which either help with survival or are just happenstance from living underground. These include:

• loss of skin pigment
• loss of eyes or optical functionality
• elongated appendages

Aquatic troglobites (stygobites), such as the Alabama cave shrimp, feed on nutrients from detritus that flows into the cave along with assorted animal feces. Other stygobites include cave fish and salamander, and the Olm; a blind amphibian living in the caves of Southern Europe.

cave fish


Because caves tend to be isolated from one another, each cave has its own separate ecosystem. This causes many species that reside within their walls to be endangered, such as the tooth cave spider, the gray bat, and the trapdoor spider.

tooth cave spider

grey bat

Caves also hold historical importance as being used for shelter, burials, and spiritual activities by our early ancestors. The Great Cave of Niah, in Malaysia, contains evidence of human habitation dating back 40,000 years. Caves are, in fact, still being used in the preservation of wine and cheese; their constant temperatures and high humidity make them ideal environments.

Did you know?- The world’s longest cave is Mammoth Cave in central Kentucky. Known to contain 360 miles of passageway, this national park comprises 52,385 acres of Mississippian limestone strata covered with a surface layer of sandstone. Their park website can be found here.


  1. These things are really gross, I'm doing a project on it

  2. I'm doing a project on the Tooth Cave Spider, it's really gross, and apparantly they're extinct. They're so small, no wonder.

  3. I had one of these in my personal cave, it was really small and I was hungry, so I put some BBQ sauce on it and put it on the BBQ, and ate it , no wonder they're extinct, it's because ive been eating them for breakfast lunch and dinner every day! :D

  4. OMG!! i want to try that!! where is your cave, i want to come over for dinner tomorrow night!!

  5. Ok, i'll ask my mom if you can come over for dinner then we can sleep in the cave and have a sleepover with them, and then you can also eat them for breakfast!