The cave is one of North America's most fascinating source of fossils from the late Pleistocene era. The fossils, which came from several thousand animals, have created a pile that has been estimated to be as deep as 30 feet.
From the surface, the cave entrance does not seem interesting or special. The entrance measures a mere 12 by 15 ft. and has a depth of 85 ft. The cave has an average temperature of 40ºF and humidity levels of around of 98%.
If humans themselves find it difficult to see the cave, it's no wonder why animals would feel the same way. For thousands of years, several animals had become unfortunate victims of the cave's "secret" location, plunging themselves to death. Some of these animals would include the cheetahs, lions, short-faced bears, and mammoths.
During the mid-1970s, a team from the University of Kansas had once explored the cave. However, the cave was closed in the 1980s by the US Bureau of Land Management. The cave's entrance had been sealed with a metal grate. Since then, the cave had been left untouched and almost forgotten.
Now, the same bureau is gearing up to reopen the metal grate it had placed before at the cave's entrance. Once opened, the cave will soon be filled with a team of researchers and assistants that would come from various locations around the globe.
As a preparation for their cave exploration, the team needed to hit the climbing gym. Julie Meachen, a paleontologist from Des Moines University and the leader of the team admitted that she hasn't really done any real climbing in the past. "I'm pretty terrified," says Meachen. She added that the only way to get inside the cave is by rappelling oneself down. Likewise, going out seemed more difficult as it would require a single-rope climb to reach all the way back up, covering a total height of eight stories.
Alan Cooper of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA based at the University of Adelaide had planned to gather fragments of mitochondrial DNA from the animal fossils. Meachen found this venture agreeable by explaining that since the temperature over the place had been cold all year long, "it has got just the perfect conditions for preserving DNA, in multiple species, in large numbers of individuals, which is not really found anywhere except Siberia and the Arctic."