Scientists in China discovered a massive sinkhole in early May that has an entire forest inside of it.
The sinkhole is located in Leye County, an area in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, state-affiliated Xinhau reported. Known as a “tiankeng” or “heavenly pit,” it’s roughly 630 feet deep, over 1,000 feet long and almost 500 feet wide, Live Science reported Wednesday.
“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,” the expedition team leader Chen Lixin said, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Stephen Hawking Had One Clear Warning About Aliens. Scientists Are Ignoring It)
😲A giant sinkhole with a volume exceeding 5 million cubic meters has been discovered by a Chinese cave exploration team in Leye County, Baise City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, bringing the number of known sinkholes in the area to 30. pic.twitter.com/nn7kuB7yv7
— China News 中国新闻网 (@Echinanews) May 11, 2022
Speleologists and spelunkers entered the sinkhole in early May, where they discovered the entrances to three caves and ancient trees that soared over 130 feet high, Live Science continued. National Cave and Karst Research Institute executive director George Veni said that the discovery was “cool news,” the outlet reported.
The sinkhole is likely one of many in the region that contain well-preserved primitive forests, Xinhau reported.
“Because of local differences in geology, climate and other factors, the way karst appears at the surface can be dramatically different,” Veni told Live Science. “So in China you have this incredibly visually spectacular karst with enormous sinkholes and giant cave entrances and so forth. In other parts of the world you walk out on the karst and you really don’t notice anything. Sinkholes might be quite subdued, only a meter or two in diameter. Cave entrances might be very small, so you have to squeeze your way into them.”
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The latest sinkhole is one of 30 discovered in the region, Live Science noted. Though the discovery was, according to Veni, not a surprise, the hole was a secluded home to various flora and fauna, Newsweek reported.