A cave is "a natural opening in the ground extending beyond the zone of light and large enough to permit the entry of man," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Caves can range in size from single rooms to large formations with winding passageways that extend for miles. Caves typically form in types of rock, such as limestone, that dissolve in water. It can take tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years for caves to form. The study of caves is called speleology, and the exploration of caves is called spelunking. Caves are famous of their dripstone features called speleothems, the most well-known of which are stalactites and stalagmites. Many of the strange creatures found in caves have adapted to live in near or total darkness — some are blind to visible light. See cave pictures and read about the latest cave discoveries and speleological research below.
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Where Is the World's Deepest Cave?
Krubera Cave, deepest caves
December 22nd, 2015
Some undiscovered ones may extend far deeper into the Earth than the record of 1.36 miles.
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Wow! The Most Amazing Images in Science This Week
Leatherback turtle
March 14th, 2015
The beginning of a new era in solar technology with the Solar Impulse 2 and and amur tiger family portrait, spelunkers finding ancient coins and the eruption of a Chilean volcano — just a few of our favorite photos in Science this week.
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Meet Hades, the Centipede from Hell
The Hades centipede.
June 30th, 2015
Deep beneath the surface of the Earth, in a dank and dismal cave, lives Hades, the invertebrate king of hell.
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Cavers Find Ancient Hoard of Coins and Jewelry in Israel
artifacts in cave
March 9th, 2015
While spelunking in northern Israel, cavers stumbled upon a hidden stash of ancient coins and jewelry from the era of Alexander the Great, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced.
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Underwater Cave Full of Ancient Bones to Be Mapped in 3D
Diver Susan Bird working at the bottom of Hoyo Negro, a large dome-shaped underwater cave on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
June 20th, 2014
A 3D modeling technique allows researchers to stay dry while studying skeletons found in a deep underwater cave on the Yucatan Peninsula.
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Lemurs Snooze in Caves Like Early Humans
A ring-tailed lemur in a tree
December 6th, 2013
A group of ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar have made caves their nightly sleeping spot and are the first wild primates ever observed to return to the same caves night after night to rest.
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Traces of Ancient Earthquakes Hidden in Cave Rocks
A cave in Indiana where scientists sampled for a study on ancient earthquakes.
April 22nd, 2015
Shattered cave formations in the central and eastern United States preserve one of the longest records of powerful earthquakes in these regions.
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How Cave Slime Helps Create Dripstones
Tjuv-Ante’s Cave
September 7th, 2014
Bacteria aren't just tenants inside Sweden's Tjuv-Ante's Cave. The microbes are building calcite dripstones on the ceiling.
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Icicles Galore: Visitors Flock to Apostle Islands' Frozen Ice Caves (Photo)
Apostle Islands Ice Cave
February 4th, 2014
For the first time in five years, intrepid visitors to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore can make the icy trek along the frozen waters of Lake Superior to glimpse the millions of icicles that embellish the region's incredible ice caves.
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