Deep inside Brazil, there are tunnels large enough for an individual to walk through. The tunnels are very neat symmetrical too have been caused by any known geologic process, may be lined with claw marks. These mammoth tunnels are perhaps the craft of giant ground sloths humongous “paleoburrows” that no longer walk the Earth. The largest tunnel measured 2,000 feet long, 6 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. An estimated 4,000 metric tons of dirt and rock were dug out of the hillside to create the burrow. It was evidently the work of not one or two individuals but several generations.

However tens of thousands of years after these megafauna did their digging, those tunnels still dot this part of South America. This discovery has a great feature up about it and up until the 2000s; little was known or written about this bounty of holes. But since he came upon his first one near Novo Hamburgo, Brazilian scientist Heinrich Frank has found more than 1,500 tunnels, found burrows that measure hundreds of feet long. Researchers have exposed one with branching tunnels that. It had to have been dug by numerous creatures over generations, not by one or two giant sloths. However, the big open question comes in mind, why?

The tunnels appear to be much larger than any burrowing animal would need to get away from bad weather or hungry predators. Some believes the burrows were dug by a genus of giant ground sloths, as large as modern elephants, that once lived in South America. Because they were some of the biggest land mammals on earth exceeded in size only by the mammoth. However, others believe that extinct armadillos, which were smaller than the giant sloths, were responsible for the burrows.

A closer look at those claw marks. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

A closer look at those claw marks. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Claw marks are clear signs from the engineers who dug the tunnel. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Claw marks are clear signs from the engineers who dug the tunnel. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

In South America, giant sloths—some the size of elephants—roamed the surface, and were, perhaps, expert tunnel diggers. (Credit Wikimedia Commons)

In South America, giant sloths—some the size of elephants—roamed the surface, and were, perhaps, expert tunnel diggers. (Credit Wikimedia Commons)

Inside the first paleoburrow discovered in the Amazon. It’s nearly twice as large as the second-largest known burrow, located elsewhere in Brazil. (Credit Amilcar Adamy-CPRM)

Inside the first paleoburrow discovered in the Amazon. It’s nearly twice as large as the second-largest known burrow, located elsewhere in Brazil. (Credit Amilcar Adamy-CPRM)

Looking into a large paleoburrow in Brazil. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Looking into a large paleoburrow in Brazil. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Outside the entrance to a paleoburrow. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Outside the entrance to a paleoburrow. (Courtesy Heinrich Frank)

Some believes the burrows were dug by a genus of giant ground sloths, as large as modern elephants, that once lived in South America. Because they were some of the biggest land mammals on earth exceeded in size only by the mammoth.

Some believes the burrows were dug by a genus of giant ground sloths, as large as modern elephants, that once lived in South America. Because they were some of the biggest land mammals on earth exceeded in size only by the mammoth.

Source: Discover Magazine

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