Most Unique Caves: Including Most Beautiful Crystals, Rare Animals
Crystals in Naica Mountain Caves in Mexico History
These caves are found roughly 150 miles south of the United States Border in the Naica mountains in Mexico in the Chihuahua desert. Originally mining was done over a 100 years ago for metals such as silver in the Naica mountains, but it wasn’t until 1910 that any noteworthy caves were discovered. This was the famous Cave of Swords, named for the 6 foot long crystals jutting from the walls. Then at the start of the second millennium a new cave was found called the Cave of Crystals, with even more illustrious and huge crystals. Some of these Crystals are about 35 feet long and can weigh up to 50 tons!
The Cave of Swords is pictured below.
How the Crystals Developed
Crystals of this magnitude take thousands of years to develop. The crystals were underwater for possibly thousands of years until in 1985 the mining company that owns the site drained the water. This water was even hotter than the air temperature, over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water had remained no one could have explored the caves, they would be fried alive.
Conditions Inside Crystal Cave
As you can imagine the temperature outside the caves above ground in the Chihuahua desert is very hot. Even in the desert you would think that miles below the surface it would be considerably cooler, yet this isn’t the case. Due to volcanic activity below ground the temperature can get up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit even at a depth of 1000 miles. In addition to the extreme heat there is also near 100% humidity. That is why protective clothing like vests containing ice packs and respirators must be worn in order be able to see these amazing crystals for a maximum time of just 45 minutes.
Crystal Caves in the Future
There could be hundreds of other caves that might contain dazzling crystals just waiting to be discovered!
Extinct Bacteria Brought Back to Life From Crystal Cave
Back in 2008 bacteria that lived 10,000 to 50,000 years ago were discovered in the Naica caves as well. They were preserved an imprisoned in the gypsum that makes up the the cave walls and ceilings and give us incite into the tenacity of life on Earth. It also gives us hope for life on other planets as well because if these bacteria can be reanimated maybe bacteria on other planets can be brought back as well. This bacteria is also noteworthy in that it is not closely related to any bacteria that we already no of in the modern world. With no light the bacteria uses chemosynthesis, which means its depends on minerals found in the rock for life.
Found in 1986 in the vicinity of Carlsbad Caves in New Mexico and has over 120 miles of caves that have been mapped. Most caves are formed by the pressure of water, but Lechuguilla was formed as a result of sulfuric acid eroding the rock. This process is much faster at producing caves. It has beautiful crystals that are up to 19 feet long in a place aptly called the Chandelier Ball Room.
Rare Animals In Caves
Peculiar animals have managed to survive in dark caves that have low levels of oxygen an offer very little for them to eat. Each individual species lives is found in just one cave system. The rarest and most unique animals are briefly discussed below.
Belizean White Crab
These crustaceans have lost their eyesight after living in caves in Belize for thousands of years. They are all white and feed off of whatever morsels of food happen to wash into the cave they live in. A relative few amount of these animals exist in just one cave system but they are not likely to go extinct any time soon.
Mollies are a type of fish live in water that is rich in sulfuric acid.
These fish are only found in caves in Thailand and are completely blind. They have survived and evolved in caves for millions of years. Hooks on their fins allow them to grab on to rocks so they won’t get swept away by the current of the underwater river they live in.
Texas Cave Salamanders
They are capable of surviving months with out eating any food and there are less than a 100 living today in a single Texas cave.