Site map
About the site

Unlike any other

  Telling if the burrow was used by other animals

Modern examples

Daimonelix burrows from the Early Miocene of Nebraska. Smaller burrows, identified as "fibers" by the proponents of the plant hypothesis, were probably dug by dung beetles. Redrawn from Boucot 1990


Fossil examples


Identifying the animal


Surface marking


Identifying the use

|Identifying other inhabitants


Modern burrows host an assemblage of dozens of species, some dependent on the burrow's microclimate, others simply taking advantage of the available shelter. Among the dependent groups are many arthropods. For instance, the catopide beetles feed exclusively on the fur and dead epidermis of the marmots, in whose underground nests they exist. Their abundance varies between the different types of marmot burrows. They are most abundant in the winter burrows, where the temperature and humidity are more constant. Whole species assemblages have been found to be particular to just one part of the marmot's burrow (Bibikov 1989).

Some of the diversity of the burrow fauna can, in its turn, be resolved from trace fossils. Retallack (1990) studied the smaller burrows found on the devil's corkscrews (Daimonelix). They turned out to be constructions of dungbeetles. In modern burrows, as many as 250 dungbeetles can live in one marmot latrine (Bibikov 1989).


Back to lobby