Cave explorers have unearthed a forest hiding, prospering, and growing at the bottom of a sinkhole with trees ranging up to 130 meters tall. The ancient forest has been discovered in a massive sinkhole in south China’s Guangxi region that extends up to 630 feet deep and spans more than 176 million cubic feet.
Chinese scientists are speculating that the forest could be home to unique species that have never been reported by science in the past. The Guangxi site is famous for sinkholes in Southern China and among the 30, it is the largest. The site reportedly had three caves in its walls and a well-preserved primitive forest at the bottom.
“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," Chen Lixin, who led the expedition team said.
The sinkholes in the region are part of the karst landscapes and form when groundwater dissolves bedrock, causing the ceiling of a cave chamber to collapse. The sinkhole is known to local residents as Shenyang Tiankeng, or “the bottomless pit.”
According to a report in the Guangxi Daily newspaper, the sinkhole is dangerous, strange, steep, and beautiful. Zhang Yuanhai, chairman of the Asian Caves Alliance said that the scientific expedition is of great significance to the readjustment of the protection scope of the geopark, establishing scientific research and exploration bases, and developing local tourism.
The expedition used the single rope technique for caves to rappel along with the caves and discovered dense plants and trees as they descended vertically for 100 meters. The team reached the bottom of the pit which was characterised by tropical rainforest with the trees stretching upward desperately, growing tall and thin, showing a "slim" appearance.
“The expedition team found a large piece of wild plantain at the bottom of the pit, as well as a rare square bamboo. However, there was no cave connecting the underground river at the bottom of the pit, and it is estimated that the underground river has been diverted," the Guangxi Daily newspaper reported.