Site map
About the site

Unlike any other

  Surface markings

Modern examples

Surface markings on the roof of a Daimonelix living chamber. Although initially interpreted as claw marks, these were later found to be mostly incisor marks, indicating a different mode of digging. Redrawn from Martin and Bennett, 1977

Fossil examples


Identifying the animal


|Surface marking


Identifying the use

Identifying other inhabitants


Surface markings allow one to reconstruct the mode of digging and to identify the burrower. Martin and Bennett (1977) were able to identify two species of Palaeocastor that excavated devil's corkscrews (Daimonelix), based on the size of the incisor marks. Using incisors from fossils found elsewhere, they were able to reproduce these marks on wet sand.

The study of claw marks on burrow casts allowed a group of Argentinian researchers (Saffer et al. 2004) to reconstruct the biomechanics of digging in the extinct group of giant armadillos. This animal was the size of a bear, and as a burrower, it has no modern analogue.

Back to lobby