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A life-long caver, Verheyden works at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, where she specializes in stalagmites.
She treats them as time capsules, using the chemicals within them to reconstruct the climate of past millennia.
In February 1990, thanks to a 15-year-old boy named Bruno Kowalsczewski, footsteps echoed through the chambers of Bruniquel Cave for the first time in tens of thousands of years.
The cave sits in France’s scenic Aveyron Valley, but its entrance had long been sealed by an ancient rockslide.
Kowalsczewski’s father had detected faint wisps of air emerging from the scree, and the boy spent three years clearing away the rubble.
“It’s kind of magical, even without the structures.”After drilling into the stalagmites and pulling out cylinders of rock, the team could see an obvious transition between two layers.With his death, work on the Bruniquel Cave ceased, and its incredible contents were neglected.They’ve only now re-entered the limelight because Sophie Verheyden went on holiday.Many search its depths, and whilst few find what they're looking for, even fewer ever leave, often becoming trapped within, their desires making them unable to leave.Despite this, The Cave isn't, strictly speaking, an evil entity, placing value on the good in human nature, despite holding an incredibly pessimistic view of the humans that come to it, and an exceptionally dark sense of humor.