Movile Cave

Movile Cave (Romanian: Peștera Movile) is a cave near Mangalia, Constanța County, Romania discovered by Cristian Lascu in 1986 a few kilometers from the Black Sea coast.[1] It is notable for its unique groundwater ecosystem rich in hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide but low in oxygen. Life in the cave has been separated from the outside for the past 5.5 million years and it is based completely on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis.[2]


The air in the cave is very different from the outer atmosphere. The level of oxygen is only a third to half of the concentration found in open air (7–10% O2 in the cave atmosphere, compared to 21% O2 in air), and about one hundred times more carbon dioxide (2–3.5% CO2 in the cave atmosphere, versus 0.03% CO2 in air). It also contains 1–2% methane (CH4) and both the air and waters of the cave contain high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and ammonia (NH3).[3]


The cave is known to contain 48 species, among them leeches, spiders and a water scorpion. Of these, 33 are endemic. The food chain is based on chemosynthesis in the form of methane- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, which in turn release nutrients for fungi and other bacteria. This forms microbial mats on the cave walls and the surface of lakes and ponds which are grazed on by some of the animals. The grazers are then preyed on by predatory species.[4] Nepa anophthalma is the only known cave-adapted water scorpion in the world.[5] While animals have lived in the cave for 5.5 million years, not all of them arrived simultaneously. The most recent animal recorded is the cave's only species of snail, which has inhabited the cave for slightly more than 2 million years.[6]


General references

  • Jean Balthazar: Grenzen unseres Wissens. Orbis Verlag, München 2003, Seite 268, ISBN 3-572-01370-4.
  • Serban M. Sârbu; Thomas C. Kane; Brian K. Kinkle, "A Chemoautotrophically Based Cave Ecosystem", in Science, Vol. 272, No. 5270. (Jun. 28, 1996), pp. 1953–1955.

Inline citations

  1. Fox-Skelly, Jasmin. "The bizarre beasts living in Romania's poison cave". Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  2. BBC Earth. The bizarre beasts living in Romania's poison cave
  3. Kumaresan, Deepak; Wischer, Daniela; Stephenson, Jason; Hillebrand-Voiculescu, Alexandra; Murrell, J. Colin (2014). "Microbiology of Movile Cave – A Chemolithoautotrophic Ecosystem". Geomicrobiology Journal. 31 (3): 186–193. doi:10.1080/01490451.2013.839764. ISSN 0149-0451.
  4. "Abstract:Microbial food webs in Movile Cave". Research Councils UK Gateway to Research. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  5. Vasile Decu; Magdalena Gruia; S. L. Keffer; Serban Mircea Sarbu (1994). "Stygobiotic Waterscorpion, Nepa anophthalma, n. sp. (Heteroptera: Nepidae), from a Sulfurous Cave in Romania". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 87 (6): 755–761. doi:10.1093/aesa/87.6.755.
  6. Movile Cave – An Oddity Of Romania.
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