Topolnița Cave

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Topolnița Cave
Topolnițsa Cave
Relief Map of Romania.png
Red pog.svg
Location of the cave in Romania
Location Mehedinți County, Romania
Coordinates 44°49′05.9″N22°33′46.6″E / 44.818306°N 22.562944°E / 44.818306; 22.562944 Coordinates: 44°49′05.9″N22°33′46.6″E / 44.818306°N 22.562944°E / 44.818306; 22.562944
Length11–20.5 km (6.8–12.7 mi)
Elevation453 m (1,486 ft) [1]
DiscoveryV. Dumitrescu (1880)
AccessOnce a year (August)
Cave survey Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology (1962)

Topolnița Cave (Romanian : Peștera Topolnița) is a karst cave located in Mehedinți County, Romania. [2] It is the fourth-longest cave in Romania: only Peștera Vântului, Humpleu-Poienița Cave, and Hodobana Cave are longer. [3] [4] Most speleological sources estimate its length at 20.5 km (12.7 mi), [5] [6] [7] although a length of 22 km (14 mi) has also been reported. [8] Some Romanian news sources report a more conservative 11,000 metres (36,000 ft). [9] [10] It is considered a natural monument of Romania. [11]

Romanian language Romance language

Romanian is a Balkan Romance language spoken by approximately 24–26 million people as a native language, primarily in Romania and Moldova, and by another 4 million people as a second language. It is an official and national language of each of Romania and Moldova. In addition, it is also one of the official languages of the European Union.

Mehedinți County County in Sud-Vest, Romania

Mehedinți County is a county (județ) of Romania on the border with Serbia and Bulgaria. It is mostly located in the historical province of Oltenia, with one municipality (Orșova) and three communes located in the Banat. The county seat is Drobeta-Turnu Severin.

Peștera Vântului is the largest cave in Romania, with a length of almost 52 km. It is situated in the Pădurea Craiului Mountains on the left bank of Crișul Repede River in the vicinity of Șuncuiuș village, Bihor County. This cave is closed and only accessible to cavers, but there are works going on to develop it as a show cave.


The cave was first historically documented in 1880 by V. Dumitrescu. [10] The first serious attempt at scientific exploration was made in 1956 by Professor Sever Popescu of Turnu Severin. Finally, specialists from the Emil Racoviță Institute of Speleology at the Romanian Academy began true systematic exploration in 1962. [9]

Romanian Academy academy of science

The Romanian Academy is a cultural forum founded in Bucharest, Romania, in 1866. It covers the scientific, artistic and literary domains. The academy has 181 acting members who are elected for life.


Topolnița Cave is located at 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Drobeta-Turnu Severin, between the villages of Marga and Cireșu. [9] It has at least four entrances. [6] The cave's primary entrance is in the central part of the Mehedinți Plateau, where the Topolnița River plunges 50 m (160 ft) down into the earth. [2] The river later emerges farther downstream at the foot of a hill.

Godeanu Commune in Mehedinți County, Romania

Godeanu is a commune located in Mehedinți County, Romania. It is composed of four villages: Godeanu, Marga, Păunești and Șiroca.

Cireșu is a commune located in Mehedinți County, Romania. It is composed of four villages: Bunoaica, Cireșu, Jupânești and Negrușa.

Mehedinți Plateau Geopark protected area

The Mehedinți Plateau Geopark is a protected area situated in Romania, on the administrative territory of counties Gorj (5%) and Mehedinți (95%).

Topolnița Cave has a huge number of passages and galleries arranged over five floors, many of which have attracted fanciful names as a result of the speleothems that have formed in them. [9] One of the largest galleries, at 1,570 m (5,150 ft) long, is named the Racoviță Gallery in honor of Emil Racoviță, a noted Romanian explorer. [2] [12] Approximately 100–150 m (330–490 ft) from the entrance is the Bat's Gallery, containing a bat colony and a large guano heap. [13] Other features within the cave include lakes, waterfalls, rapids, and massive forests of stalactites and stalagmites. [10] Neolithic remains have also been found within the cave. [10]

Speleothem A structure formed in a cave by the deposition of minerals from water

Speleothems, commonly known as cave formations, are secondary mineral deposits formed in a cave. Speleothems typically form in limestone or dolomite solutional caves. The term "speleothem," as first introduced by Moore (1952), is derived from the Greek words spēlaion "cave" + théma "deposit". The definition of "speleothem," in most publications, specifically excludes secondary mineral deposits in mines, tunnels, and other man-made structures. Hill and Forti more concisely defined "secondary minerals" which create speleothems in caves:

A "secondary" mineral is one which is derived by a physicochemical reaction from a primary mineral in bedrock or detritus, and/or deposited because of a unique set of conditions in a cave; i.e., the cave environment has influenced the mineral's deposition.

Emil Racoviță Romanian polar explorer

Emil Racoviță was a Romanian biologist, zoologist, speleologist, explorer of Antarctica and the first biologist in the world to study the arctic life.

In biology, a colony is composed of two or more conspecific individuals living in close association with, or connected to, one another. This association is usually for mutual benefit such as stronger defense or the ability to attack bigger prey. It is a cluster of identical cells (clones) on the surface of a solid medium, usually derived from a single parent cell, as in bacterial colony. In contrast, a solitary organism is one in which all individuals live independently and have all of the functions needed to survive and reproduce.

Cave access

Best described as "labyrinthine", Topolnița Cave is a difficult cave to explore even for experienced cavers. [14] [15] Access for tourists is permitted only once per year, on a feast day in August, where guides lead tours 100 m (330 ft) into the cave to view the Racoviță Gallery. [10] [16] Otherwise, the cave is gated and access is only available by permission of the Romanian Academy. [12] In the 1980s, there was some government interest in adding tourist-access features such as stairs, railings, and electric lights, but funding fell through before the Romanian Revolution and nothing was completed. [16]

Labyrinth maze-like structure from Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate, confusing structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, the monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it.

Romanian Academy of Sciences

The Romanian Academy of Sciences was an institution established in Romania by a group of 26 scientists, dissatisfied with the imperfect organization of the Scientific Section of the Romanian Academy, which was left in the background, with only 12 seats to represent all sciences.

Romanian Revolution Period of violent civil unrest in Romania in December 1989

The Romanian Revolution was a period of violent civil unrest in Romania during December 1989 as a part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several countries. The Romanian Revolution started in the city of Timișoara and soon spread throughout the country, ultimately culminating in the show trial and execution of longtime Communist Party General Secretary Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, and the end of 42 years of Communist rule in Romania. It was also the last removal of a Marxist-Leninist government in a Warsaw Pact country during the events of 1989, and the only one that violently overthrew a country's government and executed its leader.


The cave's temperature hovers between 8.2–10.8 °C (46.8–51.4 °F), making it a relatively warm cave. [9] As a result, it is a suitable habitat for some fauna, including the largest colony of greater horseshoe bats in Europe. [17] A 2015 survey conducted as part of an effort to protect Romania's bats found 7,482 individual horseshoe bats living in the cave. [17] The colony in the Bat's Gallery is mainly composed of insectivorous Mediterranean horseshoe bats, Daubenton's bats, and long-fingered bats. [13] Radiocarbon dating has shown that the bat guano from that colony has been continuously deposited since 1694. [13]

Greater horseshoe bat species of mammal

The greater horseshoe bat is a bat of the genus Rhinolophus. Its distribution covers Europe, Northern Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Asia. It is the largest of the horseshoe bats in Europe and is thus easily distinguished from other species. The species is sedentary, typically travelling up to 30 kilometres (19 mi) between the winter and summer roosts, with the longest recorded movement being 180 km (110 mi). The species is notable as having the oldest recorded age for any European bat, with a bat living for over 30 years. The frequencies used by this bat species for echolocation lie between 69–83 kHz, have most energy at 81 kHz and have an average duration of 37.4 ms.

Insectivore Organism which eats insects

An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of eating insects.

Mediterranean horseshoe bat species of mammal

The Mediterranean horseshoe bat is a species of bat in the family Rhinolophidae. It is found in the Mediterranean region and balkan peninsula, as well as parts of Italy.

In 2009, a pair of bearded vultures was spotted at the cave by hunters. The sighting was treated with some excitement, as the bearded vulture is no longer extant in Romania. [18]

Plenty of invertebrate species live in or around Topolnița Cave. Specimens of Clausiliidae, or door snails, such as Macedonica marginata , have been found in the cave. [19] A number of species of Opiliones, colloquially known as harvestmen, have been recorded. [20]

Related Research Articles

Drobeta-Turnu Severin City and County capital in Mehedinți County, Romania

Drobeta-Turnu Severin is a city in Mehedinți County, Oltenia, Romania, on the left bank of the Danube, below the Iron Gates.

Troglofauna species that lives in caves and similar subterranean enviroments

Troglofauna are small cave-dwelling animals that have adapted to their dark surroundings. Troglofauna and stygofauna are the two types of subterranean fauna. Both are associated with subterranean environments – troglofauna are associated with caves and spaces above the water table and stygofauna with water. Troglofaunal species include spiders, insects, myriapods and others. Some troglofauna live permanently underground and cannot survive outside the cave environment. Troglofauna adaptations and characteristics include a heightened sense of hearing, touch and smell. Loss of under-used senses is apparent in the lack of pigmentation as well as eyesight in most troglofauna. Troglofauna insects may exhibit a lack of wings and longer appendages.

Scărișoara Cave cave

Scărișoara Cave, is one of the biggest ice caves in the Apuseni Mountains of Romania, in a part of Carpathian chain. It is considered a show cave and one of the natural wonders of Romania. It has also been described as a glacier cave.

Peștera cu Oase Cave and archaeological site in Romania

Peștera cu Oase is a system of 12 karstic galleries and chambers located near the city Anina, in the Caraș-Severin county, southwestern Romania, where some of the oldest European early modern human (EEMH) remains, between 37,000 and 42,000 years old, have been found.

Guano excrement of seabirds and bats

Guano is the accumulated excrement of seabirds and bats. As a manure, guano is a highly effective fertilizer due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium: key nutrients essential for plant growth. Guano was also, to a lesser extent, sought for the production of gunpowder and other explosive materials.

Deer Cave

Deer Cave, located near Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia, is a show cave attraction of Gunung Mulu National Park. It was surveyed in 1961 by G. E. Wilford of the Malaysian Geological Survey, who predicted that Mulu would yield many more caves in the future. The cave, which is also known as Gua Payau or Gua Rusa by the local Penan and Berawan people, is said to have received its name because of the deer that go there to lick salt-bearing rocks and shelter themselves.

Ozark big-eared bat subspecies of mammal

The Ozark big-eared bat is an endangered species found only in a small number of caves in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, the southern central United States. Also known as the western big-eared bat, the long-eared bat, and the lump-nosed bat, its appearance is defined by a pair of outsize ears and a lump-adorned nose. The Ozark big-eared bat is the largest and reddest of the five subspecies of Corynorhinus townsendii and is medium-sized and weighs from 0.2 to 0.5 ounces. It has very large, 1-in-long ears that connect at the base across the forehead. The snout has large, prominent lumps above the nostrils. These particular bats feed on moths and other insects; they forage along forest edges.

Subterranean fauna

Subterranean fauna refers to animal species that are adapted to live in underground environment. Troglofauna and stygofauna are the two types of subterranean fauna. Both are associated with hypogean habitats – troglofauna is associated with terrestrial subterranean environment, and stygofauna with all kind of subterranean waters.

Coliboaia Cave Cave and archaeological site in Romania

Coliboaia Cave is located in Apuseni Natural Park, Câmpani, Bihor County, Romania. It contains the oldest known cave paintings of Central Europe, radiocarbon dated to 32,000 and 35,000 years BP, corresponding to the Aurignacian and Gravettian cultures of the Paleolithic period.

Marcian Bleahu Romanian geologist and politician

Marcian David (Matty) Bleahu was a Romanian geologist, speleologist, geographer, alpinist, explorer, writer and politician. He is well known for his scientific contributions to the development of the theories of global tectonics, for his pioneering in speleology and for the development of this science, but also for the popularization of science and of ecology in Romania.

Yagodinska Cave cave in Bulgaria

Yagodinska Cave is a cave in the Rhodope Mountains, southern Bulgaria. It is included in the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria under № 89. It is named after the homonymous village nearby. With a total length of 10,500 m, Yagodinska is the third longest cave in the country after Duhlata and Orlova Chuka and the longest in the Rhodopes. Yagodinska Cave is home to 11 species of bats.

Cuciulat Cave Cave and archaeological site in Romania

Cuciulat Cave is located on the Podișul Someșan plateau, near the village Cuciulat in the commune Letca, Sălaj County, Romania. It contains the oldest known cave paintings in Central Europe.

Maternity colony Temporary association of reproductive female bats

A maternity colony refers to a temporary association of reproductive female bats for giving birth to, nursing, and weaning their pups. The colonies are initiated by pregnant bats. After giving birth, the colony consists of the lactating females and their offspring. After weaning, juveniles will leave the maternity colony, and the colony itself will break apart. The size of a maternity colony is highly variable by species, with some species forming colonies consisting of ten or fewer individuals, while the largest maternity colony in the world in Bracken Cave is estimated to have over 15 million bats.

Ojo Guareña Cave and archaeological site in Spain

Ojo Guareña is a karst complex located in the Cantabrian Mountains of Castile and Leon, Spain, declared a natural monument by the government of Castile and Leon in 1996. It is composed of over 90 kilometres (56 mi) of galleries and passages within an area of some 13,850 hectares. The limestone formation containing the system is approximately 100 metres (330 ft) thick and sits on a massive water-resistant layer of marl. The caves were formed in the limestone by erosion sometime within the Coniacian Age. Ojo Guareña was considered the greatest karst system of the Iberian Peninsula until 2009, when a significant length of new passages was discovered in the Mortillano system.

Pınargözü Cave

Pınargözü Cave, is a cave 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of the town of Yenişarbademli in Isparta Province, Turkey. It is considered the longest cave in Turkey, although it has not yet been fully explored, and the precise extent to which it has been explored is in dispute.

Abisso Bonetti

Abisso Bonetti is a Karst cave in the municipality of Doberdò del Lago, 1 km (0.62 mi) SE from the small village of Bonetti, near Slovenian border. The cave is one of the most famous cavities in the Gorizia Karst. Anyway, due to its dangerous pit opening, entry is allowed only to expert cavers with the necessary equipment for single-rope descend.

Grotta dellArtiglieria

Grotta dell'Artiglieria is a Karst cave in the municipality of Doberdò del Lago. The cave is located NE of Doberdob Lake, near the top of a small hill, in the small village of Jamiano. The name is referred to the artillery battery set in the cave during World War I.

Rhinolophus procunsulis is an endangered species of horseshoe bat found in Malaysia. Though it was discovered in 1959, it was not recognized as a distinct species until 2013.

Fauna of Romania

The fauna of Romania comprises all the animal species inhabiting the country of Romania and its coastal territory in the Black Sea.


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