A few bizarre animals who manage to survive in an ecosystem adapted uniquely for their survival.
Light never penetrates the deep vastness of these monstrous underground caverns. Some animals that live here may come and go as they please. Others, will spend their entire life here, never having seen the light of day. Within these caves lives a rich ecosystem that thrives despite the lack of sunlight. Here are a few of these amazing wonders.
Nestled in the ceiling of caves will be thousands of these little worms. They will lower dozens of strands of silk in the hopes of catching prey. Glands in the glow worms mouth produce the silk. Loaded with droplets of mucus, the substance catches prey much like a spider web. And if that doesn’t work, they have another way of luring their dinner. They can produce a blue glow within in their tail that brings in curious passersby. Once prey is caught, the glow worm lures in its catch and devours it alive.
They can grow to be up to 8 inches long. Bats, which also live in the caves, produce massive amounts of guano. In turn, many creatures feed upon the guano. The cave centipede, which is generally carnivorous, will feed upon these creatures that sustain themselves on the gauno (cockroaches, mites, moths, etc.).
These birds build their nests within caves. Using saliva, they laboriously build these nests hundreds of feet into the air. They use echo location to find their nests. In some cultures, the nests of the birds are considered delicacies and are used to make bird’s nest soup. Some nests can fetch a hefty price ranging in the thousands of dollars. Villagers who harvest the nest will knock down the nest without harming the swiftlet. But much to its angst, it must rebuild a new nest.
While they look menacing, they are completely harmless. They are known as troglobites, or animals that will never see daylight. The pseudoscorpion has evolved over time to develop without eyes, having longer limbs, no stinger, and long appendages.
Texas Blind Salamander
There are only a few hundred of these animals left in the wild. Because there is no light, evolution has made these salamanders blind. It has adapted to living in water in underground caves. The skin of these animals has lost pigment. While blind, the animal is an acute hunter, capable of sensing prey, like shrimp and snails.
Harvestmen (species: Phalangodes armata)
These arachnids have adapted legs with strong spines used for hunting prey. They usually hunt on the cave walls or the floor in search of prey. Like other troglobites, these arachnids have lost the ability to see as well.
Ayalon Cave Crustacean
Discovered by chance in Israel in 2006. This unique crustacean was about 2 inches in length and lacked eyes. It was originally thought to be related to a species found in three other areas, but DNA testing proved it to be a completely different species. Sealed below 300 feet in a cavern, this species of crustacean had managed to survive in a unique ecosystem unchanged for millions of years.