Cave Creatures - Vocabulary

Cover-Cave Creatures

Vocabulary - definitions and context

Cavern:
a type of cave that grows formations called "speleothems"
Context: Longhorn Cavern is a cavern where fossils of ice-age animals have been found.
Column:
a giant cave formation that sometimes looks like a column in a building
Context: Kickapoo Cavern features a cave column that's 80 feet high - the tallest one in Texas!
Dark zone:
the deepest and/or farthest parts of a cave where no sunlight reaches at all
Context: Animals that live in the dark zone usually won’t have much pigmentation since the sun never shines on their skin.
Drapery:
cave formations that look like the drapery (curtains) in our houses
Context: Even some of the small caves at Colorado Bend State Park have some drapery.
Entrance zone:
the area of a cave near the opening where sunlight comes in and green plants may grow
Context: Animals that live in the entrance zone are called "trogloxenes" and must leave the cave to find food.
Pigmentation:
when an animal's skin is darkened to protect it from the sun
Context: Troglobites, animals that live in cave dark zones, usually don't need pigmentation because the sun doesn't shine where they live.
Speleothems:
formations that grow in caverns
Context: Most caverns in Texas are formed in limestone so their speleothems will be formed from limestone deposits.
Stalactite:
a rock formation that looks like an icicle and hangs from the roof of a cave
Context: A stalactite hangs from the TOP and you can remember that because the word makes a lot of "T" sounds.
Stalagmite:
a rock formation that looks like a cone and is built from the cave floor
Context: It takes hundreds of years for a stalagmite to form, one drip at a time.
Troglobites:
small animals with special adaptations so they can survive in dark caves
Context: The endangered Texas blind salamanders are very special troglobites!
Troglophiles:
small animals that could live their whole lives in a cave, but could also survive outside of a cave
Context: Earthworms and beetles are examples of troglophiles.
Trogloxenes:
animals that live in the cave entrance zone, but can't stay there all the time
Context: Mexican free-tailed bats are examples of trogloxenes because, while they live in caves, they must leave them each evening to find the insects they eat.
Twilight zone:
the part of a cave that has very little sunlight and plants do not grow
Context: Often frogs live in the twilight zone because it is damp there.

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