If you happen to venture to Constanta County in south eastern Romania, you might come across a desolate nondescript and barren plateau near the Black sea. At first sight, it seems just another mundane plain, not worth exploring, but scientists thought otherwise because what they found lying beneath was something completely astonishing.
Beneath the Romanian plain, lies an isolated cave which had existed for 5.5 million years. That wasn’t the only issue that left scientists agape with awe; the 5.5 million year old cave filled with prehistoric creatures was somehow the find of the century.
1 A Scientific Treasure Trove of Remarkable Discoveries
The 5.5 million year old cave filled with prehistoric creatures was discovered in 1986. Till then, it had been sealed off in obscurity away from human interference. It was by virtue of an accident that Romanian authorities locating a site for building a nuclear plant faltered across the cave. Since then, this remarkable find has become a treasure trove for scientists and so valuable to ecological science that it is strictly guarded and no one is allowed inside without permission. It seemed years of evolution existed in that incredible prehistoric cave.
Known as the Movile cave, the air itself is poisonous with a high level of humidity. The air quality is poor with high content of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. It is extremely dark because sunlight has never once shone on this cave for 5.5 million years.
2 Atmosphere not Supportive of Life, Yet Creatures Existed In The Cave
The strangest factor puzzling scientists is the atmpsohphere, perfect for breeding its weird occupants. The cave in fact was teeming with creatures unknown to man. Weird species of spiders, strange water scorpions, centipedes and the like. What seemed to sustain all life in the cave was an even stranger mat of bacteria that floated in the interior of the cave. Scientists researching the species have catalogued 48 since the cave’s discovery and were baffled to find that 33 of them were totally unique, only to the cave.
In what seemed like some alien movie, all of the species possess pronounced features such as larger antennae, feelers and unusually long limbs. None of the creatures seemed to possess good eyesight and had faint pigmentation. They had all evolved to adapt and navigate in the dark environment of the cave.
3 A Unique Ecosystem, unlike That Found On Earth
Today, the Romanian ancient cave with prehistoric creatures is the only ecosystem of its kind on earth, which feeds of chemosynthetic bacteria. Almost every ecosystem requires photosynthesis for producing energy. In the case of the cave, bacteria cannot rely on sunlight and thus have adapted to rely on the oxidation of the chemical substances found in the cave atmosphere such as ammonia and sulfide.
4 Inaccessible To Humans and Protected By Natural Limestone Barriers
The cave which is almost inaccessible, requires a person to be lowered 20 meters down a narrow shaft by rope. Once at the bottom, one needs to negotiate limestone tunnels that act as a natural barrier to the cave. The limestone tunnels with ochre walls opens out into the cavern that has a lake at its center. Rich Boden, a microbiologist from Warwick University, Coventry became just the 29th person in 2010 to see the cave in person. That goes to show how restricted the cave is to people.
5 Valuable Insight into Nature and Evolution
Truly sounding straight out of a Jules Verne movie, scientists are baffled as to how life exists in such inhospitable environment. They believe that the bacteria on the lake is as old as the cave itself. During that time, prehistoric insects may have been trapped in the cave which could have been sealed from limestone casting till its accidental discovery in 1986.
It has now been 30 years since the cave’s discovery, but more and more eventful discoveries are being made by scientists, related to the prehistoric inhabitants of the cave. Microbiologists and ecologists feel that the cave filled with prehistoric creatures could well be species that could provide valuable insight into nature and evolution. The biggest surprise to scientists was the fact that the water in the cave wasn’t fed from stalactites or stalagmites as in the case of regular caves. The Movile cave had a water body fed from the spongy type of sandstone which had remained there for the last 25,000 years.