Massive sinkhole with ancient forest inside may contain undiscovered species
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An ancient forest that has been discovered down at the bottom of a huge sinkhole in China could harbour species that are as yet unobserved by science.
The hole itself is absolutely incredible, as it’s part of a fascinating geological landscape, and has trees inside it that are as tall as 40 metres (130 feet).
It’s seriously deep, and seriously unexplored, meaning that there could be stuff down there that only exists down there, and that we’ve never ever seen before.
The place was found by cave explorers - spelunkers, if you want a much more fun word to say - in 2022, and they then told scientists about what they’d found.
The fascinating site is in the Guangxi region of southern China, where there are actually a whole load of sinkholes.
However, this one is the largest one of the 30 in Leye County, being 306 metres long, 150 metres across and a whopping 192 metres deep.
More interestingly, it has a gap at the top that can allow light into it, which has allowed the primitive forest to flourish.
Zhang Yuanhai, from the Institute of Karst Geology - more on Karst in a minute - at the Chinese Geological Survey, told state media that there are three caves at the very bottom of the sinkhole as well as the well-preserved ancient forest.
The expedition to the bottom of the sinkhole was long, but Chen Lixin, who led that team, said that in addition to the trees there was dense shoulder-high undergrowth at the bottom.
He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are species found in these caves that have never been reported or described by science until now.”
The type of landscape that has created these sinkholes is called karst landscape, which is formed mostly by the dissolution of bedrock by groundwater.
That means that when the water erodes or dissolves the bedrock - limestone, predominantly - sinkholes and caves are created.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are loads of different caves and sinkholes in this particular area, but this one is of particular interested, because light can get into it.
That means that it can grow large trees and other vegetation, in which the scientists will hope to discover something new.
We’ll have to keep watching to find out what eventually emerges from this strange sunken world.
Maybe Bigfoot will stumble out of there, after all?