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New Organism Found in Guangxi Karst Caves

Three cave organisms have been found in a recent exploration of karst caves in Leye County, Baise Prefecture of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. They might belong to a new species, said Professor Zhang Chunguang, who work with the Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The scientific research team is composed of scientists, experts as well as journalists from media. According to a Beijing Youth Daily report, the newly found organisms are typical ones living in caves. Their bodies are transparent, and their digestive tract can be clearly seen. Their eyes have been retrograded to a black point, but they have highly developed sense of touch. One of them looks like cricket, whose antenna is four to five times longer than its body. The other two belong to invertebrate.

Seen from the air, the 20-odd pits adjacent to each other are like vertical shafts, covering an area of 20 square km. At the bottom of them are primeval forest never stepped on by human beings. They are in various kinds and confirmed to be the largest pit group in the world.

The largest one of the pit group is called Dashiwei, which combines unique landscapes such as large funnel-shaped karst caves, underground primeval forests, underground rivers and underground karst caves. Initial estimation shows that it is 613 meters deep, 420 meters wide from north to south and 600 meters in length from east to west.

On the trip to Dashiwei pit, a fossil mountain was also found. Complete animal fossil was preserved on any stone you randomly picked up. People can still see clearly the internal structure of different animals.

Experts say the Leye pit group might be formed during the Quaternary period of Cenozoic Era 3-4 million years ago. From the plant found at the bottom of the Dashiwei pit, scientists predicted that it might take shape at the same time with dinosaurs, i.e. about 65 million years ago.

According to Cai Wutian, assistant research fellow of China Institute of Karst Geology, the pits were formed because of intense crustal movement. As the crust rises suddenly, most karst caves collapsed and underground rivers subsided, thus forming the pits we see.

The karst pit is of high value in tourism, exploration and sightseeing. China first found such toporgraphy in Fengjie county of Chongqing. To date, large-scale karst caves have been found only in Russia, Slovenia and France.

(CIIC by Li Jinhui 04/16/2001)

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