English Abstract

This is the homepage of the "Projeto Paleotocas", an effort of a multidisciplinary research group of people from several Brazilian universities that studies the tunnels excavated by large Cenozoic mammals from the South American megafauna. After the extinction of these animals, the tunnels survived and can be found in various stages of preservation. They are the biggest and best preserved ichnofossils of the world.

Working in an area north of the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, the study group has identified more than sixty different places with tunnels in the last two years. Each place may host a single tunnel or up to 25 of them. One hundred and thirty tunnels are filled with sediments ("crotovines"), but some 45 are empty and can be entered (palaeoburrows). Three sizes of the tunnels have been found (0.8m, 1.2m, 2.0m), its lengths reach up to 60 meters. The total length of open tunnels surpasses 700 meters.

The most exciting work is the study inside the tunnels - the study of the marks made by the animals. Several thousands of marks of at least five different types are available now, its study require years of scientific efforts.

Right now, efforts are concentrated in finding more tunnels to build up a most representative database of these ichnofossils. For any question, please mail to paleotocas@gmail.com.

Thanks for your interest.

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