Despite a complete absence of light and a poisonous atmosphere, the cave is crawling with life. There are unique spiders, scorpions, woodlice and centipedes, many never before seen by humans, and all of them owe their lives to a strange floating mat of bacteria.
Strangely, the worse the air gets the more animals there are. It’s not at all obvious why that should be, or how the animals survive at all.
Without any signs of water reaching the deep cave from the surface, it is unclear how the animals in the cave survives. Tests have shown that the water flowing in does not contain any food particles. Instead, the food comes from the strange frothy foam sitting on top of the water. This floating film, which looks like wet tissue paper and can even be torn like paper, contains millions upon millions of bacteria known as “autotrophs”.
In 1996, researchers categorised the animals in the cave. They included 3 species of spider, a centipede, 4 species of isopod (the group that includes woodlice), a leech never seen anywhere else in the world, and an unusual-looking insect called a waterscorpion.
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