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Post Info TOPIC: Prehistoric Israeli Ecosystem


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Ayalon Cave
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Discovery of eight previously unknown, ancient animal species within "a new and unique underground ecosystem" in Israel was revealed today by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers.

In a press conference on the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, the researchers said the discovery came about when a small opening was found, leading to a cave extending to a depth of 100 meters beneath the surface of a quarry in the vicinity of Ramle, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The quarry is operated by cement manufacturer Nesher Industries.
The cave, which has been dubbed the Ayalon Cave, is "unique in the world," said Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University Department of Geography. This is due mainly to its isolation from the outside world, since the cave's surface is situated under a layer of chalk that is impenetrable to water. The cave, with its branches, extends over some 2 kilometres, making it Israel's second largest limestone cave. It is to remain closed to the public to permit further scientific research.

The invertebrate animals found in the cave four seawater and freshwater crustaceans and four terrestrial species are related to but different from other, similar life forms known to scientists. The species have been sent to biological experts in both Israel and abroad for further analysis and dating. It is estimated that these species are millions of years old. Also found in the cave were bacteria that serve as the basic food source in the ecosystem.

"The eight species found thus far are only the beginning" of what promises to be "a fantastic biodiversity," - Dr. Hanan Dimentman of the Hebrew University Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, another of the researchers involved in the project.

He said that he expects further exploration to reveal several other unique life forms.
The animals found there were all discovered live, except for a blind species of scorpion, although Dr. Dimentman is certain that live scorpions will be discovered in further explorations and also probably an animal or animals which feed on the scorpions.
The underground cave includes an underground lake, in which the crustaceans were found. The lake is part of the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer, one of Israel's two aquifers, yet is different in temperature and chemical composition from the main waters of the aquifer. The lake's temperature and salinity indicates that its source is deep underground.
Among the interesting features of the discoveries thus far in the cave is that two of the crustaceans are seawater species and two others are of a types found in fresh or brackish water. This can provide insights into events occurring millions of years ago regarding the history of ancient bodies of water in the region.

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-- Edited by Blobrana at 03:50, 2006-06-01

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Posts: 131433
Date:
Prehistoric Israeli Ecosystem
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Israeli scientists said on Wednesday they had discovered a prehistoric ecosystem dating back millions of years.

The discovery was made in a cave near the central Israeli city of Ramle during rock drilling at a quarry. Scientists were called in and soon found eight previously unknown species of crustaceans and invertebrates similar to scorpions.

Ramle

latitude 31.906506 Longitude 34.926249

"Until now eight species of animals were found in the cave, all of them unknown to science" - Dr Hanan Dimantman, a biologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He said the cave's ecosystem probably dates back around five million years when the Mediterranean Sea covered parts of Palestine.

"Every species we examined had no eyes which means they lost their sight due to evolution" - Dr Hanan Dimantman.

Samples of the animals discovered in the cave were sent for DNA tests which found they were unique. The cave has been closed off as scientists conduct a more detailed survey.

"This is a cave of fantastic biodiversity" - Dr Hanan Dimantman.

Source Reuters

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