Science

EIGHT additional miles of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave have been uncovered


‘There is no end in sight’: EIGHT additional miles of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave have been uncovered that extends the 10-million-year-old structure to at least 420 miles long

  • Explorers have uncovered eight additional miles of passageways inside Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave
  • The discovery brings the system to at least 420 miles long and officials say there could be more to find 
  • The 10-million-year-old cave was first discovered in in the late 1790s by a team of pioneers 

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Kentucky‘s Mammoth Cave is the longest in the world and an additional eight miles of passages have recently been discovered, bringing the cave to at least 420 miles long.

The additional mileage was mapped and documented by members of the Cave Research Foundation (CFR), a non-profit organization, who trekked through the underground labyrinth of limestone caves.

Members of the CRF spend hours crawling, climbing and rappelling through cave passageways, following leads through sometimes very tight openings to document and map Mammoth Cave, according to the Mammoth Cave National Park.

‘When it comes to discoveries in Mammoth Cave, there truly is no end in sight!’ the Mammoth Cave National Park shared on Facebook.

The 10-million-year-old cave was first discovered in in the late 1790s by a team of pioneers, but humans have used the massive structure for about 5,000 years.

Along with a human footprint, CRF have also uncovered troves of fossils from hundreds of millions of years ago.

The non-profit organization has been exploring Mammoth Cave for the past 60 years.

Dr Rick Toomey, the park’s Cave Resource Management Specialist, said in a statement: ‘The Cave Research Foundation is fundamentally the reason that Mammoth Cave is recognized as the world’s longest cave. Without CRF exploration and mapping, Mammoth Cave would potentially still be a 44-mile-long cave system.’

The additional mileage was mapped and documented by members of the Cave Research Foundation (CFR), a non-profit organization, who trekked through the underground labyrinth of limestone caves

The additional mileage was mapped and documented by members of the Cave Research Foundation (CFR), a non-profit organization, who trekked through the underground labyrinth of limestone caves

Members of the CRF spend hours crawling, climbing and rappelling through cave passageways, following leads through sometimes very tight openings to document and map Mammoth Cave, according to the Mammoth Cave National Park

Members of the CRF spend hours crawling, climbing and rappelling through cave passageways, following leads through sometimes very tight openings to document and map Mammoth Cave, according to the Mammoth Cave National Park

The additional eight miles includes windy passageways and caverns, which are home to a range of species of wildlife, like the Eyeless Cave Fish.

Mammoth Cave was created by the natural process of limestone erosion, known as karst topography.

During this process rain and rivers slowly dissolve and shape soft limestone, creating a vast system of caves.

And underground rivers are still carving new passages today.

'When it comes to discoveries in Mammoth Cave, there truly is no end in sight!' the Mammoth Cave National Park shared on Facebook

‘When it comes to discoveries in Mammoth Cave, there truly is no end in sight!’ the Mammoth Cave National Park shared on Facebook

The additional eight miles includes windy passageways and caverns, which are home to a range of species of wildlif

The additional eight miles includes windy passageways and caverns, which are home to a range of species of wildlif

More than 100 ancient shark species have been discovered in the cave to-date, with one of the recent finds uncovered in January 2020 that dates back some 300 million years

More than 100 ancient shark species have been discovered in the cave to-date, with one of the recent finds uncovered in January 2020 that dates back some 300 million years

Beyond their scientific and recreational value, karst aquifers like Mammoth Cave provide drinking water for approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population.

More than 100 ancient shark species have been discovered in the cave to-date, with one of the recent finds uncovered in January 2020 that dates back some 300 million years.

Experts believe it belonged a Saivodus striatus, which lived between 340 and 330 million years ago during the Late Mississippian geological period.

The well-preserved head shows the creatures skull, lower jaw, cartilage and several teeth.

Based on the dimensions, the team believes the animal was similar in size to our modern-day Great White shark.



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