Scientists Find 8 New Species in Underground Cave

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In summary, a team of Israeli scientists discovered an isolated underground ecosystem in a cave near Ramle, central Israel. The ecosystem contained eight previously unknown species, including crustaceans and invertebrates. The cave, located 328 feet below ground, has tunnels extending over a mile and a half and a large underground lake. The ecosystem is sustained by bacteria that feed on dissolved minerals in the water. This discovery highlights the limited knowledge we have about life on our planet and the importance of continued exploration.
  • #1
dimensionless
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ERUSALEM - Israeli scientists have discovered an ancient ecosystem containing eight previously unknown species in a lake inside a cave, where they were completely sheltered from the outside world for millions of years.

The newly discovered crustaceans and invertebrates were found last month in a cave near the city of Ramle in central
Israel, team leader Amos Frumkin announced Thursday.

"This is a very unique ecosystem that is completely isolated from the surface," said Frumkin, a cave researcher in the geography department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The cave, located 328 feet below ground in a limestone quarry, includes tunnels that extend about a mile and a half. Inside, a large underground lake holds the previously unknown species, some similar to scorpions and shrimp.

Allen G. Collins, a research fellow at the
Smithsonian Institution in Washington, said the find "underscores how little we know about life on our planet and how important it is to keep looking."

"I imagine this is a unique situation, to have a cave system with both marine and freshwater systems, and it is quite interesting in an underground situation," he said. "The scorpion-like creatures as well as the shrimp-like creatures that were found are unique."

...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060601/ap_on_sc/israel_lost_world;_ylt=Apa63Tm0yxPMmkqxnBZVdOas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

Does anyone know how such ecosystems can sustain themselves? I mean there is no sunlight, no hydrothermal vents, and the whole system is sealed of from the surface by a "thick layer of chalk that was impenetrable to water or exterior nutrients."
 
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  • #2
dimensionless said:
Does anyone know how such ecosystems can sustain themselves? I mean there is no sunlight, no hydrothermal vents, and the whole system is sealed of from the surface by a "thick layer of chalk that was impenetrable to water or exterior nutrients."

Actually caves are dug by water and water continuously digs a cave (I'm talking about Carlsbad at least as I do not know if this specific cave receives water, I assume it does) and nutriets are intoduced as rock dissolve. I think, if I remember correctly, the ecosystem is based on the bacteria that live in the water and feed on these dissolved minerals.
 
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What types of minerals are disolved into the water?
 
  • #4
..and where does the free energy come from?
 
  • #5
dimensionless said:
What types of minerals are disolved into the water?

Whatever minerals found in the cave, in Carlsbad it was a ton of calcium.

Here's the official site of Carlsbad Caverns, a place definitely worth seeing in person: http://www.nps.gov/cave/"

I don't know how they get their energy but I'm sure that all depends on the bacteria. There is bacteria everywhere, even under extreme and nonsensicle conditions.
 
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  • #6
Frumkin said similar caves have been discovered in Romania and Mexico, but none were as isolated. Unlike most animals, which depend on the photosynthesis food chain, the newly discovered species live off a completely independent and self-sustaining ecosystem.
Your typical awful science journalism, leaves you dazed and confused.

Here's a possible clue:
When one of the volunteer staff crouched down to measure the temperature of the warm, sulfuric water he suddenly jumped up and yelled "there is something moving here."

Which suggests mechanisms like
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemosynthesis
found in
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_smokers (volcanic ocean vents)
 
  • #7
selfAdjoint said:
..and where does the free energy come from?
What do you mean, the free energy comes from the oxidation of (in)organic compounds.

There are different kinds of chemotrophy:
chemoautotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of reduced inorganic compounds or elements and obtains carbon from carbon dioxide.
chemolithotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds and uses inorganic compounds as electron donors.
chemoheterotroph- Organism that obtains energy and carbon from the oxidation of organic compounds (we humans).
chemoorganotroph- Organism that obtains energy and electrons (reducing power) from the oxidation of organic compounds.
 
  • #8
I'm sure that we'll find out more about this in time.
 
  • #9
Monique said:
What do you mean, the free energy comes from the oxidation of (in)organic compounds.

There are different kinds of chemotrophy:
chemoautotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of reduced inorganic compounds or elements and obtains carbon from carbon dioxide.
chemolithotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds and uses inorganic compounds as electron donors.
chemoheterotroph- Organism that obtains energy and carbon from the oxidation of organic compounds (we humans).
chemoorganotroph- Organism that obtains energy and electrons (reducing power) from the oxidation of organic compounds.


Sure, but the cave was awfully close to a closed sytem, at least as reported. Sooner or later everything oxidizable is in oxide, no?
 
  • #10
Just to clarify, are they seriously suggesting the whole cycle (including nutrients) is a closed system, or are they merely suggesting that the living part of the ecosystem is closed?

The former would be very hard to prove. Certainly in these early stages, I don't see how they could state it as any more than speculation.
 
  • #11

Related to Scientists Find 8 New Species in Underground Cave

1. What were the new species discovered in the underground cave?

The scientists found 8 new species in the underground cave, including a type of blind fish, a new type of beetle, and several new species of insects.

2. How did the scientists discover these new species?

The scientists used specialized equipment such as cameras and sensors to explore the underground cave and identify these new species.

3. Are these new species endangered?

At this time, it is unclear if any of the new species are endangered. Further research and observation will be needed to determine their conservation status.

4. What makes this discovery significant?

Finding new species is always significant as it adds to our understanding and knowledge of the biodiversity on our planet. Additionally, the discovery of these new species in an underground cave highlights the importance of exploring and preserving these unique and often overlooked ecosystems.

5. Will there be further research on these new species?

Yes, the scientists plan to conduct further research on these new species to learn more about their behaviors, habitats, and potential ecological roles within the underground cave ecosystem.

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