Paleontologists had long wondered what mysterious force was behind the fossilized objects in the Nebraska plains, structures that were dubbed "the Devil’s Corkscrew."
In the western United States, specifically in the dinosaur beds of Sioux County, Nebraska, strange fossilized corkscrew-like structures that mystified scientists were uncovered.
At over 2-meters in height, these generally vertically-aligned structures had a peculiar off-branch chamber at the bottom. Their design and purpose was a mystery. It was never doubted that these were created. Their origin was not accidental.
It was as if some giant twisted root had grown here and had completeddecayed to leave no trace except the hole it created, which has filled with soil that eventually became rock-hard and petrified. These were not fulgurites which are the melted path that lightning creates when it strikes silica-rich ground and causes the soil to melt into random antler-like formations.
The concretion structure itself was inorganic material like soil, and the structures were not melted silica like the fore-mentioned fulgurites. The structures found were dated to the Early Miocene Period, a geologic period that ended over 20 million years ago.
Strange Fossilized Structure Neither Plant nor Animal
Neither plant or animal but fairly regular in their general dimensions when compared to similar structures, the mysterious structures were name “Daemonelix” which means ‘devil’s corkscrew.’
Eventually as luck would have it, paleontologists found their answer when theydiscovered fossilized bones of a particular specie of rodent entombed within the bottom chamber. The scenario now made sense.
The small rodent-like creatures would dig their vertical burrows with a spiral design, terminating in a nesting chamber at the bottom. The ramping spiral form allowed them to more easily navigate the vertical mainshaft of the burrow.
At least a few discoveries of fossilized Fossorcastor (a small burrowing mammal) that had died in their burrows and became entombed and fossilized explained the mystery.
Fossorcastors were the early ancestor of today’s modern beavers, semi-aquatic creatures which have abandoned their subterranean burrowing in favor of a another home on the surface and in swampy areas and along streams, the more familiar beaver lodge.
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