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Learn About Caves and Cave Animals for Kids
Spelunkers are people who like to explore caves. They wear special helmets with lights on top. Caves aren’t too dark at the entrance but they’re completely dark further in. Spelunkers often have to get down on their hands and knees to crawl through tunnels and other tight areas until they reach a cavern.
Caverns are like large rooms in caves. The explorers may hear the sound of trickling water. Caves are made of a rock called limestone. Water gets into cracks in the rocks. When water enters cracks, it makes them bigger and bigger. Water can actually dissolve or wear away limestone rock. Just like sugar dissolves in lemonade. Over time, water can create huge holes that become caves.
Stalagmites and Stalactites
Spelunkers see lots of stalagmites and stalactites in caves. Stalactites hang down. Stalagmites stick up from the ground. You won’t forget which one is which if you remember that stalactites have to hold on tight to the ceiling.
Stalagmites and stalactites are formed by dripping water. The water drops contain minerals, which slowly build up into an icicle shape. It can take thousands of years for them to get big.
Cave animals have special names. These special names come from the Greek word troglo. Troglo means cave. Trogloxenes are animals that use caves for shelter but they always stay near the entrance. Bats and bears are trogloxenes.
Troglophiles are animals that prefer to live in caves but they can survive outside a cave as well. Some types of salamanders are troglophiles. The phile in troglophile means love. So, they love caves.
The last type is called troglobite. These are animals that have adapted to a cave environment. They can’t survive outside a cave. Because it is so dark in a cave, many don’t even have eyes. They don’t need them. They use their other senses to survive. The other senses are smell, touch, hearing and taste.
The Science of Speleology
Speleology is the scientific study of caves. Speleologists are scientists who study caves. They study the physical structure of caves, the history of caves and the animals that live in them.
Speleology is an interdisciplinary science. This means that speleologists must know a lot about other kinds of sciences. Speleologists must know a lot of geology, chemistry, biology, hydrology (study of water), climatology (study of climates) and cartography (map drawing).