This sparkley, prickly, delicate looking "wet fur" was something I photographed recently while walking through a natural tourist attraction. According to the guide there are only three known places on this immense globe where these can be seen. The story of their discovery is even more interesting. It involves a researcher, a shovel, and lots of mud. The researcher/explorer was digging out mud to follow a cavern opening. When the researcher put his shovel into the mud it became irremovable! It was just like the sword in the stone. He pulled and pulled and the shovel would not become free. He actually had to get a number of friends to help him pull out the shovel and when it finally broke free his watch and hat were sucked off of his body and into the vacuum that had been released by the hole in the mud left behind. When he widened the hole, the delicate hairy spikes are what he found on the ceiling of the cave that was revealed behind the wall of mud and shown in the photo above.
These are cave formations called Anthodites which is taken from a Greek word meaning flower-like. They are calcium carbonate forming aragonite crystals. Exotic sounding and precious. Because of their delicate nature and rareness they are protected by Federal law. It takes 7,000 years for an inch on these to form, but because these are no longer in a vacuum, they are no longer growing. These have been around for a long, long, long, long time. Hard to get my mind around that. One of them was 18 inches long. I guess we all missed that time in history even though it was much much later than the big bang.
There is a new book out called Blind Descent by author James Tabor (no relation). The author discusses caving and one of the deepest caves which is 7000 vertical feet! I have not read it, but it sounds very intriguing.
Caves have such a garden-like thing going on and cave researchers are such poets in naming cave formations. According to E-notes. com "One-hundred and two cave minerals are known to form coatings and crusts, 57 form stalactites and stalagmites, 23 form moonmilk, 15 form anthodites, 14 form helictites, 12 form Angel hair, 7 form coralloides and pearls, and 6 form cave balloons."
It is so magical this earth of ours.