china sinkhole

A few weeks ago, Chinese scientists from the Institute of Karst Geology of the China Geological Survey in China reported a startling discovery: a massive sinkhole, 632 feet in depth and over 1000 feet in length, housing a prehistoric forest relatively untouched by time. 

The sinkhole itself is a self-contained ecosystem, with towering, ancient trees over 130 feet tall and with a rich understory complete with grasses taller than a person. To add to the Jurassic Park-esque discovery, the sinkhole further contains three entrances to a network of caves that lead even deeper into the complex geological system of southern China. 

giant sinkhole china

Perhaps most interesting is the prospect of undiscovered species residing in what is, essentially, a time capsule. Giant sinkholes of this size and biological density have been known to provide refuge for species undiscovered or thought extinct.

giant sinkhole china

And the fact that it looks like something out of a fantasy novel. 

Ancient forest hiding under sinkhole in China unearthed - SCIENCE News

Chen Lixin, who led the expedition team, told Xinhua News Agency “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." 

Enormous Sinkhole with Lush Forest Discovered in China

While no species have yet been reported, scientists have only begun to scratch the surface of the ecosystem present inside the immense, subterranean oasis. Indeed, sinkholes of this scale and nature have been known to harbor utterly bizarre pockets of biological diversity -- with one such sinkhole in Texas boasting a completely self-contained ecosystem dominated by a tropical fern native to south and central America.