One Curious Ferret Made an Amazing Geological Discovery

Posted by TF Oren

Visitors of this cave in Australia have a ferret to thank. 

In 1930, Tantanoola, South Australia resident Boyce Lane was out rabbit hunting with his pet ferret in a local spot called Hanging Rocks when his ferret disappeared down a hole.

Sixteen-year-old Lane ran home to get his brother to help him look for the ferret. He had no idea he was about to find far more than his lost pet.

Lane and his brother returned to the hole where the ferret disappeared, and squeezed through the opening. A quick look around with a torch revealed a surprise: a row of stalactites. Suspecting something grander lay beyond, the Lane boys ran home to tell their father what they'd found.

Later that day, a group of men returned to investigate the stalactites. What they found was incredible. Beyond the initial row of stalactites lay a large cavern filled to the brim with more stalactites and multi-tiered columns that had been forming for thousands of years, drip by drip, as water permeated the dolomite.

News of the cave spread quickly, and Tantanoola transformed from an unassuming, small town to a must-see destination as visitors came from all directions to witness the incredible discovery firsthand.

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As far as the fate of the ferret is concerned, no one is quite sure. Records indicate that it was eventually found, although there is some debate about whether or not it was found alive.

The cave remained a tourist attraction under the ownership of the Lane family for decades until health and safety regulations forced a shutdown in the early 1980s. In 1983, Parks Australia reopened the cave to the public after adding significant safety upgrades.

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ABC

No one is sure exactly how old the cave is. However, scientists have determined the cliffs above it were once part of an ancient shoreline, indicating that the cave formation is the result of the ancient ocean's ebb and flow.

The Tantanoola Cave, with an internal temperature that sits at a steady 17 degrees Celsius year round, continues to enthrall visitors from all over the world to this day.

And it all started with a runaway ferret.

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One Curious Ferret Made an Amazing Geological Discovery