A paleoburrow is an:

underground shelter (tunnelburrow, lair, etc.) excavated by extinct paleo-vertebrate megafauna (i.e., giant mammals, such as ground sloths) that lived in the prehistoric era.[1][2][3]

Example from {1}:

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What's the translation of "paleoburrow" in French?

Google Translate and Linguee didn't help.

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  • {1} Lopes, Renato Pereira, Heinrich Theodor Frank, Francisco Sekiguchi de Carvalho Buchmann, and Felipe Caron. "Megaichnus igen. nov.: giant paleoburrows attributed to extinct Cenozoic mammals from South America." Ichnos 24, no. 2 (2017): 133-145. Google Scholar; PDF.
  • After checking your "unfructuous" Google find, I saw that in fact you overlooked something.
    – LPH
    Nov 17, 2021 at 8:45
  • @LPH but only one serious webpage used "Paléoterrier" from what I recall, so it seemed more like a (good) neologism. Nov 17, 2021 at 8:47
  • @LPH Sorry I got confused. Here's what happened: translate.google.com/… told me "Paléobule" (which nobody seems to use). I then thought of Paleoterrier (instead of Paléoterrier), but without the accent I could find only 1 serious webpage when Googling for it. Interestingly my Google Translate on Android translates Paleoburrow as Paléoterrier, unlike the Google Translate website on my side, hence your comment and my previous confusion. Nov 17, 2021 at 9:03
  • profil blanchi, crayeux, faible densité, paléo-terriers de termites à la recherche d’eau, essentiellement formé d’opale A avec alunite et gypse - datation K-Ar altération ≈ 8-18 Ma ICI: paleotime.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/…
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2021 at 18:38
  • 1
    It's not about whether a word is in a dictionary. In English, we say: "My search has not been fruitful or productive". Or: "My search has been unproductive or unfruitful". You need a really good reason to use unfructuous. It sounds positively Dickensian.
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2021 at 19:43

3 Answers 3


The term "paleoburrow" started spreading more largely around 2010 when geologists discovered the first such burrows in Brazil and forged the Portuguese word paleotocas as a word for word translation from English (tocas → tunnel/burrow)1.

But it looks as if the word hasn't yet got an acknowledged translation in French. I haven't found a scientific paper on the subject in French yet but terrier is the word that is the most often used when communicating with the general public.

If we look at recent popularisation articles we can find the word paléoterrier :

Il se pourrait qu’aucun paléoterrier n’ait été trouvé dans ces autres régions parce que personne n’en a cherché. Ce domaine de recherche spécifique en est à ses balbutiements, (Trendcatchers, 2019)

Sometimes still used between brackets:

des marques de griffes qui l'ont conduit à conclure que ce passage serait en réalité "un paléoterrier". Autrement dit, le terrier creusé par une créature fouisseuse il y a des milliers d'années. (Maxiscience, 2017)

We could make an appropriate guess in saying that in the long run paléoterrier – the word for word translation from English and Portuguese – will establish itself in French.

1 Article in Discovery Magazine,Mar 28, 2017.


There seems to be no specific term, and these lairs would be referred to often as "tunnels".

Ces tunnels creusés il y a 10 000 ans seraient l’oeuvre de paresseux géants

In this second article the term used is "terrier", which is a more specific term ("burrow", "hole", in English).


Quite conceivably, then, those holes could then be referred to as "terriers paléolithiques".

Ces énormes tunnels découverts au Brésil ont-ils été creusés par des créatures géantes ?

In the French Wikipedia, the term "terrier géant" is used (and also "large tunnel").

A specific term to match the English does exist; it is "paléoterrier". It is used here, here and here.

  • 1
    Le suffixe paleo/paléo signifie "ancien" n'est pas ici, à mon avis l’abréviation de paléolithique. Donc le terme terrier paléolithique est plus précis mais non équivalent (ça pourrait dater d'une autre époque préhistorique).
    – XouDo
    Nov 17, 2021 at 10:06
  • @XouDo Les paléoterriers se trouvent bien au paléotlithique ; ce sont en fait des terriers du paléolithique supérieur (-35000 ou -40000 à -9500) parce qu'on les situe à -10000. Il me semble donc qu'on parle de la même chose; viendrait-on à en découvrir d'une autre sorte et/ou dans une autre ère ou une autre partie du paléolithique, les deux termes deviendraient alors ambigus, mais pour l'instant on est sûr qu'ils correspondent tous les deux à la même découverte.
    – LPH
    Nov 17, 2021 at 10:40
  • Dans le premier lien, on lit: Plus de 1.500 "paléoterriers. Alors, t'as pas lu tout l'article?
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2021 at 20:10
  • @Lambie Non, pas le premier lien, mais seulement le troisième ; néanmoins, c'est bien le cas, au lieu de tout lire j'ai fait une recherche de termes sans être encore conscient du mot « paléoterrier ».
    – LPH
    Nov 17, 2021 at 22:08

Paleo is paleon in French, yet I've never heard of such a word which would be a mix of the previous with Burrow (or something else that means hole, tunnel, etc.). We would most probably use two words or a full sentence to say that in French.

But I think I have the answer you are looking for : terrier. It means the same thing physically, but the difference is that a terrier also adds up to the fact that this is indead a hole, but that it a vast combination of tunnels instead of a single one. And that it is also home of the creature. Such as Meerkats by example, who build those terriers.

So either you invent a new word for it like paleonterrier or paleon-terrier, cause there isn't one that exists yet! Or as I said before you'd refer to it as a terrier dating back from whichever year/era.

Un vieux terrier? Un terrier primitif? Un ancien terrier? Un terrier antique?

Hope this can help!

  • 2
    Paleo is paleon in French what are your sources on this? I'm a native french and I've never heard nor read "paléon" or "paleon". Plus a simple web search shows paléoterrier does exist (maybe a translation from english, but still).
    – XouDo
    Nov 17, 2021 at 9:52

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