What is a Paleoburrow?
How are my internet friends out there doing today? Fine I hope and going strong. That is what I shall be praying for this next week for all of you. I am well, just exhausted from all the Christmas activities, which I love. But sometimes it feels like I am digging a never ending tunnel, ha ha!
Speaking of tunnels, what is a paleoburrow? Well paleo, meaning old or ancient, is a term we are most familiar with in relation to geology. Paleontologists are people who studyplant and animal fossils. A paleo diet is one that consists of ancient grains. So a paleo tunnel is one that was dug by an ancient creature.
What is fascinating is that these paleo tunnels are all huge! And though intriguing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise since we know that many paleo animals are mammoth in size. The questions are then, how do we know these tunnels were excavated by extinct fauna and not naturally formed, and which animals dug them?
First of all, the people who are studying these formations are geologists and are quite knowledgable in naturally formed geologic arrays. And they all say, “It doesn’t look natural.” Amilcar Adamy of the Brazilian Geological Survey is probably the foremost expert in paleo tunnels. “… Adamy couldn’t study the cave in detail during that first encounter. But a preliminary inspection revealed it wasn’t the work of any natural geological process. He’d been in other caves nearby, formed by water within the same geology underlying this particular hillside. Those caves looked nothing like this large, round passage with a smooth floor.”
“Heinrich Frank, a professor at the Federal University of RioGrande do Sul, … passed a construction site in the town of Novo Hamburgo. There, in a bank where excavators had eaten away half of a hill, he saw a peculiar hole. Local geology doesn’t yield such a sight, so Frank went back a few weeks later and crawled inside. It was a single shaft, about 15 feet long; at its end, while on his back, he found what looked like claw marks all over the ceiling. Unable to identify any natural geological explanation for the cave’s existence, he eventually concluded that it was a ‘paleoburrow,’ dug, he believes, by an extinct species of giant ground sloth. ‘I didn’t know there was such a thing as paleoburrows,’ says Frank. ‘I’m a geologist, a professor, and I’d never even heard of them.’”
Both Adamy and Frank took a great interest in these paleoburrows and in the successive years documented over 1,700 tunnels. The largest burrow recorded so far has “many branching tunnels altogether tallying about 2,000 feet inlength. The main shafts – since enlarged by erosion – were originally more than six feet tall and three to five feet wide; an estimated 4,000 metric tons of dirt and rock were dug out of the hillside to create the burrow. ‘This wasn’t made by one or two individuals,’ says Adamy. ‘It was made by many, over generations.’”
Another fascinating aspect of these burrows is the claw marks dug deep into the rock. This gives us an indication of what species could be doing all this digging. Bothpaleontologists think the burrows were made from giant ground sloths as this animal’s fossils were found in the area. Other animals responsible for the burrows are thought to be Catonyx, Glossotherium, the massive, several-ton Lestodon, and extinct armadillos such as Pampatherium, Holmesina or Propraopus. And they are not sure if the ground these animals were digging was already rock or just hard clay.
I would like to add my professional conclusion to these suggestions as I have had an extensive career studying wildlife.There are two different types of burrows. The first is wider than it is tall, the second, taller than it is wide. The only burrows I know of that are wider than tall are dug by reptiles. Think of a crocodile or lizard (think Komodo dragon). When looking at them from the front you see their leg placement makes the limbs stick out to the side, thus making them wider than tall.
However mammals and dinosaurs have their leg placement straight up and down, making them taller than wide. Therefore I think some of the tunnels may have been dug by extinct reptiles such as a tortoise. I studied the Mojave Desert Tortoise for years and the burrows and marking look so similar to the wider than tall burrows. Even tiny lizards dug burrows in the Mojave that look like miniature version of those paleo tunnels.
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I would also like to throw in that some of the taller than wide tunnels, in addition to the giant sloths, could even have been made by dinosaurs.
And we know that these burrows were constructed post flood though the secular geologists date them to around 8000 areas ago, but clearly state they don’t really know the age of excavation.
Ahhh! The mystery of it all…I love it! God leaves his fingerprints everywhere!
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Until next time, God bless and take care!