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.
Latest about caves
Why are cave-dwelling eels growing skin over their left eyes? It may be evolution in action.
By Sascha Pare published
These "greedy" eels likely retreated into the gloomy depths of underwater caves in search of tasty crustaceans and are adapting to the darkness by going blind, one eye at a time.
20,000-year-old cave painting 'dots' are the earliest written language, study claims. But not everyone agrees.
By Kristina Killgrove published
Stone Age dots, lines and Y-shaped marks might represent a type of proto-writing created by hunter-gatherers who lived in Europe at least 20,000 years ago.
3,300-year-old cave 'frozen in time' from reign of Ramesses II uncovered in Israel
By Owen Jarus published
Construction workers in Israel unexpectedly broke into a 3,300-year-old cave that looks like an "Indiana Jones film set."
Neanderthals and Denisovans Lived (and Mated) in This Siberian Cave
By Laura Geggel last updated
The Neanderthals and Denisovans — both relatives of modern humans — were roommates, literally, for thousands of years in a remote Siberian cave, two new studies find.
Hidden passage leads explorers to deepest cave Down Under
By Patrick Pester published
Cavers have successfully navigated Australia's deepest cave and named it the "Delta Variant" after COVID-19.
Cave explorers discover a 19th-century mining scene preserved like a time capsule
By JoAnna Wendel published
While exploring an old mine in northwestern England, a group of cavers stumbled upon 200-year-old personal items and equipment left by 19th-century cobalt miners.
Giant sinkhole with a forest inside found in China
By Stephanie Pappas published
A team of Chinese scientists has discovered a giant new sinkhole with a forest at its bottom.
Largest known cave art images in US by Indigenous Americans discovered in Alabama
By Callum McKelvie published
Using a 3D scanning process known as photogrammetry, archeologists have uncovered five previously unknown giant cave paintings.
How are stalactites and stalagmites formed?
By Laura Mears published
Reference These ancient cave decorations take thousands of years to appear, building up drip by painstaking drip
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