Troglobites, cave creatures which live buried alive

(cave-dwelling creatures)

Troglobites, a biological term for millipedes, spiders, worms, blind salamanders, and eyeless fish existing in caves

These creatures evolve to navigate, mate, and to kill within an environment of perpetual darkness, intense or extreme starvation, poison gases, and endless labyrinths of stone.

They develop in isolation and are unable to disperse; so, they often consist of just a few individuals in one cave, or one room of one cave. Increasingly, many are threatened by pollution, quarrying, and human vandalism.

It is believed that perhaps 90 percent of the caves in the world do not have visible entrances and remain undiscovered; however, even in well-explored caves, troglobites have become experts at hiding from intruders.

In order to survive in stagnant, low-oxygen air in dead-end recesses and months without food, many troglobites have very slow metabolisms. Since they live slowly, they also live longer.

Their abnormal sensory equipment allows them to travel, sense objects moving or still, ambush prey, and to judge the size and suitability of prospective mates; as, a study of troglobitic fish has revealed.

Cut off from the fruits of photosynthesis (sun-light processes of plants), most caves are places of extreme hunger; however, they still depend indirectly on the sun which never shines in their environment. In some caves, rootlets from trees far above dangle through cracks in ceilings, providing food for some of the species.

At least a dozen known caves from Romania to Wyoming have no ecological connection to the surface; however, they run on purely geologic substances; such as, sulfur compounds, methane, iron, and hydrogen and are consumed by specialized microbes which provide food for other larger organisms.

Unfortunately, the futures of many troglobites may be shorter than during their past times. Caves provide ready conduits for seeping pesticides and sewage from cities and farmlands; and troglobites are particularly sensitive to such poisons.

—Compiled from excerpts of information located in
"Discoveries in the Dark" by Kevin Krajick, National Geographic,
September, 2007; pages 134-146.

See other cave words in this troglo- unit.