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Troglophiles- "Caving in Israel"

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Down the hole we went

No, not dear Alice’s rabbit hole

But a wonderland nevertheless







Heard about any of these fears?

Imagine the possibility of having all these phobias under one roof

Shall I go on?

Slide through the fears

Emerge out to the other side

And see

The wonder

Caves are a unique underground ecosystem isolated from the outside world and home to many exceptional organisms that have adapted to life in the dark. Courage, curiosity and another eye strapped to your head are what you need to see the world of troglofauna, small cave-dwelling animals. From troglobites (obligate cave dwelling) to others who have completely lost their eye sights due to the darkness, the beauty of each warrants us to stay on our toes, or better yet, crawl on our bellies to see the world within.

A cave can be partitioned into 4 zones: the entrance zone, twilight zone, transition zone and deep dark zone; each zone boasts an amazing variety of invertebrates. Of course, the diversity and abundance of invertebrates in a cave depends on precipitation, elevation, latitude, minimum temperature, and guano levels (of cave dwelling bats). A diversity hidden, a mystery yearning to be discovered!

I was so fortunate to learn and do some caving with great cave researchers in Israel viz., Efrat Gavish Regev, Shlomi Aharon, Igor Aramiah, Sharon Warburg, Zeana Ganeam and Evgenia. Two incredible scientists- Martina Pavelek from Coratia and Stephano Mammola from Italy, also joined us to study the unique Israeli caves in Beit Shamesh, Mount Carmel and South Golan and Ein Avdat.

Enjoy and feast your eyes on some of the wonder we were privileged to see in the pictures below!

Entering and Exiting a cave is not that easy

On our way to the Teomim Cave in Beit Shamesh, Israel- Not so far from the place where David Killed Goliath.

A Pholcid spider

A spider infested with fungus

The Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale)- an insectivorous bat. As they feed on insects their guano is rich in protein and so many invertebrates thrives on it

Fruit eating Rousettus aegyptiacus bats - and so their guano is rich in sugar that attracts sugar loving invertebrates

Amblypygi -Juvenile

Amblypygi are a nocturnal group of arachnids, commonly called tailless whip scorpions (not to be confused with whip scorpions, that belong to the related order Thelyphonida).

Loxosceles rufescens The Mediterranean recluse spider

Lithobiomorpha (Stone Centipedes)

Cave Snail

A blind pale cave silverfish

Cave Cockroach Hemelytroblatta with an amazing camouflage

Theraphosid Chaetopelma sp.

Intimidating display of a cave dwelling Chaetopelma sp. leaning back on its haunch, raising its head and legs and exposing its long curved fangs. Wow what a threatening display it is!

Is this a glow worm by any chance? who knows?

Planarians in a small puddle of water formed by dripping of waters inside the cave from above ground

Cave blind millipedes- Wow one should smell them- the strong smell of Quinone. Millipedes are well protected against predators. Apart from hardened cuticles, disturbance-related coiling behaviors, the smell of quinone will also serve as an effective means of active defense.

Nemopteridae- Larvae from a cave in Ein Avdat, Israel

Cloeon sp. a Mayfly from a cave in Ein Avdat, Israel

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