Chinese limestone cave network named as the longest in Asia, at 238km

Shuanghe Cave in Guizhou province overtakes Gua Air Jernih in Malaysia after latest mapping expedition

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 6:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2018, 6:39pm

A limestone cave in southern China has been confirmed as the longest in Asia by an international team of scientists, according to a local media report.

After a two-week investigation of the Shuanghe Cave network in Zunyi, Guizhou province, the researchers put its total length at 238km (148 miles), making it 16km longer than the famous Gua Air Jernih Cave in Malaysia, Guizhou Daily reported on Saturday.

The expedition, which was carried out this month, was led by Li Po, director of the Guizhou Karst Cave Research Centre. Over the course of the two weeks, the team discovered numerous fossils, including those of a sabre-toothed tiger – the large predator that became extinct 11,000 years ago – and a giant panda, Li was quoted as saying.

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More than 60 species of creatures had or still were living in the cave network, he said, but just how such large mammals ended up in its depths remained a mystery.

The team’s discoveries would help scientists better understand the changes to the environment and climate in the region, which is home to some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated karst landscapes, he said.

“What happened in the past can help us better predict the future,” he was quoted as saying.

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The Shuanghe Cave was discovered 30 years ago, and over the years various expeditions by Chinese and international teams have led to its mapped length being extended and the discovery of many interesting geological features, including a large waterfall.

The cave is a popular tourism attraction and local authorities said its deeper sections would be gradually developed and opened to visitors.