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I recently read the account of Colonal Fawcett's exploration of South America - 'Journey to the Lost City of Z'. This thread isn't about him or his explorations, however, but just one thing that he comments on in his account. The journals are peppered with his observations on natural history and this involves one of those observations. From pp75 -77...
.. Talking of birds, all through the Peruvian and Bolivian Montana is to be found a small bird like a kingfisher, which makes its nest in neat round holes in the rocky escarpment above the river. These holes can plainly be seen, but are not usually accessible, and strangely enough they are found only where the birds are present. I once expressed surprise that they were lucky enough to find nesting-holes conveniently placed for them, and so neatly hollowed out - as though with a drill.
"They make the holes themselves." The words were spoken by a man who had spent a quarter of a century in the forests. "I've seen how they do it, many a time. I've watched, I have, and seen the birds come to the cliff with leaves of some sort in their beaks, and cling to the rock like woodpeckers to a tree while they rubbed the leaves in a circular motion over the surface. Then they would fly off, and come back with more leaves, and carry on with the rubbing process. After three or four repetitions they dropped the leaves and started pecking at the place with their sharp beaks, and - here's the marvellous part - they would soon open out a round hole in the stone. Then off they'd go again, and go through the rubbing process with leaves several times before continuing to peck. It took several days, but finally they had opened out holes deep enough to contain their nests. I've climbed up and taken a look at them, and, believe me, a man couldn't drill a neater hole!"
"Do you mean to say that the bird's beak can penetrate solid rock?"
"A woodpecker's beak penetrates solid wood, doesn't it? ...No, I don't think the bird can get through solid rock. I believe, as everyone who has watched them believes, that those birds know of a leaf with juice that can soften up rock till it's like wet clay."
originally posted by: ArmyOfNobunaga
a reply to: JamesTB
Softened stone would have led to muuuuch more stone art than what we see today. Stone sculptures would be more abundant. Heck hand impressions in stone even?