Scientists meet to save Lascaux cave from fungus





PARIS – Geologists, biologists and other scientists convened Thursday in Paris to discuss how to stop the spread of fungus stains — aggravated by global warming — that threaten France's prehistoric Lascaux cave drawings.

Black stains have spread across the cave's prehistoric murals of bulls, felines and other images, and scientists have been hard-pressed to halt the fungal creep.

Marc Gaulthier, who heads the Lascaux Caves International Scientific Committee, said the challenges facing the group are vast and global warming now poses an added problem.

"All of Lascaux's problems have always been linked to the cave's climatization, meaning the equilibrium of air inside the cave," Gaulthier told reporters at a news conference before the symposium. Now, rising temperatures have complicated matters by stopping air from circulating inside the caverns, he said.

"It's stagnating, immobile, frozen" inside the cave, he said.

This makes sending teams of scientists into the affected caverns risky, as their mere presence raises humidity levels and temperatures that could contribute to the growth of the different fungi, algae and bacteria that have attacked the cave over the years, he said.


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