In a cavernous underworld 100 meters beneath a soft limestone quarry in Ramle, Israel, scientists have found eight new animal species – seven of which are still thriving in the darkness below.
Researchers recently completed a comprehensive study on the species – whose habitat quarry workers discovered in 2006 – and have thus far given names to seven out of the eight animals inhabiting the area. Isolated for millions of years in a 40- meter-long hall in a 2.7-kilometer- long cave, the species have survived off of sulfur bacteria in their underground lake. The cave was concealed about 100 meters under the surface with no natural opening to the surface.
The only other cave in the world comparable to this isolated Israeli wonder is the Movile Cave in Romania, which has a similar groundwater system and is also sulfuric – essential for internal energy production in place of photosynthesis. The ecosystem in the Romanian cave, however, is larger, with many more species, but many of them also live outside the cave. They are not endemic to the cave. But in Israel, most or perhaps all are endemic to the cave.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald