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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about the longest cave in the world. Mammoth Cave, in central Kentucky, measures 365 miles long. Further exploration could expand that to 1-thousand miles by the end of the century.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood.

(music plays up and under: Steve Fisk "Amateur European" 999 LEVELS OF UNDO.)

CURWOOD: The 1st of July is the 60th anniversary of the designation of Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky. Mammoth Cave certainly lives up to its name. This underground labyrinth is 365 miles long, and takes the prize as the longest cave in the world. It officially won that honor almost three decades ago. That's when explorers discovered a connection between Mammoth Cave and the nearby Flint Ridge cave system. Mammoth is home to over two hundred species of animals. Many, including eyeless fish and silent crickets, have adapted to live in a cave environment. Explorers of Mammoth Cave are still looking for even more passages and wells in the Mammoth Cave system. James Borden and Roger Brucker are doing just that. The two used to be strong rivals. They each planned secrete expeditions involving dangerous and unexplored routes in an underground effort to outcave each other. But today, they're working together, along with other explorers, who have found nearly four hundred miles of underground passages near Mammoth Cave. It's hoped that connections between these twists and turns and the cave itself can be found. If that happens, Mammoth Cave might stretch for as long as 1,000 miles. By the way, the world's second longest cave? It's in the Ukraine, measuring a mere 113 miles. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

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