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ith political tensions once again high as the world seems to drift away from its attention from a major health crisis, we always revert back to the possible scenario of a nuclear apocalypse. Despite the different programs implemented by the United Nations in the past 30 years to eradicate nuclear weapons from this planet, they still exist. As of 21 of January 2022, the world still houses 13,080 ready-to-use nuclear warheads, most of which are held by Russia and America.

Out of that big number, it would only require a total of 150 nuclear warheads to put an end to this world as well as humanity. Although a declassified document shared by historian Alex Wellerstein shows that scientists at the Los Alamos laboratory have studied how many nukes it would take to end the human race in 1945. They came up with a maximum of 100 nuclear warheads, but I say 150 to ensure that a good job is done. Here is an article I have previously published where I go into more detail about this.

If all humanity dies, what happens to life?

Although humanity composes a big part of life, it does not represent the entirety of life. In the scenario that a nuclear apocalypse would take place, Earth’s ecosystem would be ruined for at least 150 million years. This means that everything would decay, including all life forms, from plants to insects and even micro-organisms. Technically life itself on earth would perish.

But what if I was to tell you that on this amazing planet there is one place where life would actually be preserved until the ecosystem could be regenerated once again? This is no man-made nuclear bunker or any other post-apocalyptic architecture. It is actually a cave located near the coast of the Black Sea in Romania.

Movile cave had only been recently discovered in 1986 by geologist Christian Lascu and it has presented the most unique ecosystem where life is sustained by the primary production within the cave. One of the first biologists that went to visit the cave was Dr. Thomas Kane, a professor of biology at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Kane estimated based on his expert analysis that the cave was about 5.5 million years old and so were the 33 unique creatures discovered within it.

Researchers down Movile Cave, arrows indicate the cupolas of the ceiling (Source: Dr Alexandra Hillebrand-Voiculescu, Emil Racovita Institute of Speleology)

What is more interesting about the cave is that it had been sealed off by nature from the rest of the world for millions of years. Dr. Kane states that this had occurred around the end of the Miocene Epoch when a big climatic change had impacted all life on earth. The Mediterranean Sea dried up around that time, and many creatures and organisms ended up in caves such as this one. However, it is only within this cave that these species adapted quickly enough to survive within the cave and sustain themselves through in situ chemosynthetic primary production (analogous to deep-sea hydrothermal vents).

The only life forms that would remain alive

An analysis was done on all the different species of creatures that are found within Movile cave in 2021. It is extraordinary to see the rarity of these species as they have been sealed from the world until 1986, but also the biodiversity that has sustained itself within the cave. It is also known as the world’s most diverse subsurface invertebrate community. This is where you would find water-scorpions, leeches, spiders, and other small creatures.

Different types of creatures from within Movile Cave in 2021 (Source: MDPI)

These species had to adapt to a very specific habitat that would remain constant. These creatures have not seen light for the past 5 million years since the discovery of the cave. Within a cave, the climate remains constant, especially if it has been sealed. Meaning that the air, water, temperature, and humidity are always the same.

This is actually a very positive aspect as the constant variables would not allow for these creatures to perish, therefore life would not perish. This same aspect is what has kept these creatures that have been sealed from the rest of the world alive. One problem from this would be that these creatures may not be able to evolve due to the lack of change that would provoke evolution. At least it assures the preservation of life, as long as humanity does not influence it too much.

The cave is only 50 meters (160 feet) deep and 240 meters (800 feet) long, making it deep enough to be protected from a nuclear blast and radioactivity. All of the caves around the world that humanity is aware of have been explored and this is truly unique. This could be Earth’s plan b in case humanity screws up.

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