Avid fans of Frank Herbert's classic Dune are praising Shai-hulud, the Sand Worm of Arrakis, Old Father Eternity, the Grandfather of the Desert, already. The sand on the fictional planet Arrakis is thought to have resulted almost entirely from the activities of giant sand worms.
"The worm is now beneath the crawler," Kynes said. "You are about to witness a thing few have seen."
...A gigantic sand whirlpool began forming there to the right of the crawler. It moved faster and faster. Sand and dust filled the air for hundreds of meters around.
Then they saw it!
A wide hole emerged from the sand. Sunlight flashed from the glistening white spokes within it. The hole's diameter was at least twice the length of the crawler, Paul estimated. He watched as the machine slid into that opening...
See the taking of the worm starting at about 3:00 in this excerpt from the David Lynch movie version of Dune.
Unfortunately, the Earth version of prehistoric giant sand worms are only about three feet long and six inches wide. Their remains have never been found, but now their burrows are coming to light.
Geologist Dr Kevin Page said the discovery of the underground holes is an unprecedented find in science and represents "life - but not as we know it".
He said: "It really is quite extraordinary. Nothing like this has ever been found before. The underground area is peppered with these burrows.
"There is no supporting evidence to suggest they were made by creatures we know about, so what were are looking at is an entirely new life form.
"It is very, very strange. They were made at the end of the Paleozoic period before dinosaurs came along when the earth teemed with creatures which are now extinct.