Saturday, July 30, 2016
A Romanian cave sealed for 5.5 million years is slowly being cataloged, with some interesting finds.
Movile Cave has an atmosphere so dangerous that the few scientists who have so far been allowed to visit must use breathing equipment, thanks to low levels of oxygen and high levels of hydrogen sulphide in the air. Most creatures in the cave are thought to have been sealed in over five million years ago, and then evolved features to deal with the dark, such as losing their eyes and growing longer legs and antennae.
The ecosystem relies entirely upon chemosynthetic bacteria that extract carbon from the air without the aid of light. The most numerous bacteria use carbon dioxide, and others get their carbon from methane. The bacterial film on the water and walls is where all the nutrients enter this ecosystem, and it’s the only known example of such a system. Small animals eat the slime, and larger animals eat them.
Photo: An unidentified leech from Movile Cave
Credit: Thierry Berrod, Mona Lisa Production/SPL