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Extrapolating from the original size of the hill sliced away for the highway, he calculated that the original burrow was about 250 feet long, not counting for twists and turns that it surely once included.“There’s no geological process in the world that produces long tunnels with a circular or elliptical cross-section, which branch and rise and fall, with claw marks on the walls,” says Frank.

Others are still open, like the one that first attracted Frank’s attention.

When Frank found a suitable passage, he squeezed through an elliptical shaft roughly four-feet wide, 65-feet long and lined with claw marks.

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.

It turned out to be the first paleoburrow discovered in the Amazon, which is notable, but not the coolest part.

It also turned out to be one of the largest ever measured, with branching tunnels altogether tallying about 2,000 feet in length.

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.

“I’m a geologist, a professor, and I’d never even heard of them.” Until the early 2000s, in fact, hardly any burrows attributed to extinct megafauna had been described in the scientific literature.

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