LIVING THINGS IN CRYSTAL CAVE
Certain forms of living things have adjusted themselves to a dark existence in caves, and have become modified by re-arrangement of normal sense organs. Sightless fish and insects are not uncommon in some of our larger, well known caves. In Crystal Cave, a large, brownish-black spider has been identified tentatively by experts as a new species in the genus Pimoa, family Linyphiidae. (28) This spider spins its web in various parts of the cave and around lights where small flying insects, and occasionally large cave crickets, become entangled frequently enough to furnish food for the spiders.
The cave crickets have been discovered only recently, and entomologists report that they are a new species in the very rare genus tropidischia. These crickets are colored like the spiders, and have antennae three inches long upon which they seem to rely in moving about, rather than upon eyesight. "This genus is practically unknown to science." (28).
There also are millepeds, sometimes called thousand-legged worms, in various parts of the cave. They are quite harmless and roll themselves into a spiral when handled. Mice and wood-rats find their way into the darkest recesses of the cave, and caches of acorns and other seeds are common. These animals are the same species seen above the ground and inhabit the cave only sporadically. Their droppings are abundantly distributed over the surfaces of clay banks in the alcoves adjoining the Organ and Dome Rooms. Bats are seen in the cave only occasionally. One specimen, a Lump Nosed or Big Eared Bat (Corynorhinus sp.), taken from a remote recess in December 1945 proved to be a new species for the park. Bears have been reported to den up in some of the outer openings of the cave during cold weather, and the skeletal remains of a raccoon were found in one of the openings. Bones of deer and other animals have been found at great depths, some of which are partially encased in flowstone. In the Fall of the year, deer commonly enter the cave as far as the spider web portal.
Caves have been used by man as dwellings and burial grounds since the earliest times, and they furnish important information concerning ancient cultures of primitive people in the form of artifacts, paintings, and skeletal remains, as well as information concerning the plant and animal life upon which they subsisted. Some of the most common superstitions and legends in Roman mythology center around caves. Present day curiosity and interest in caves seem to be instinctive. (9 and 10). There is no evidence of human use at Crystal Cave.
Last Updated: 31-Jan-2007