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Rock-badgers are large mustelids with a strange ability: They can burrow through stone. They achieve this with large, slightly mole-like forelimbs, with mineralized claws that can cut through stone. They also have some level of supernatural strength. These abilities also allow it to move through soil. They are predators that live near cave mouths and other areas with exposed stone, and hunt by 'punching' out of the ground to attack unsuspecting prey above them. Could this creature survive and get enough energy in its environment?

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  • $\begingroup$ digging through has less to do with how hard the claws are than how strong the muscles are, if I give you a hardened chisel how fast can you dig through concrete, faster or slower than through dirt with a plastic trowel? $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 20 at 20:53
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Rock is generally a hard material, and with hard and brittle materials a certain degree of percussive force is needed to break it and remove it.

In this case your badger should work something like a woodpecker.

Abrasion takes an awful amount of time and energy to be effectively used for surprise attacks. And the noise produced while digging through the rock would grant all but surprise.

It would probably be more effective if your badger would store the debris and dump it on the target.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah dump stones on the target.. it could even cause avalanches.. +1 $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jun 20 at 18:32
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It might survive if it stays mostly in normal soil

Digging or cutting through stone is no mean feat. To cut through stone both our modern and ancient ways use quite a bit of strength. A high requirement of strength generally translates to high requirement of energy usage. I'll leave out problems with moving the stone out of the way, as that is a whole different problem this creature likely cannot solve and live.

Their hunting tactic isn't very feasible if it needs to burrow to each target, even in normal soil. The chance the prey notices or just leaves is too great. It needs to have pre-dug tunnels to move, feeling out prey above them through the ground with sensitive organs. Lots of creatures hunt from below the surface, both aquatic and on land. With pre-dug tunnels it can hunt better than others, remaking the tunnel after each attack.

Normally an attack would only be feasible in normal soil. With super strength I give this a pass. Still, most likely the creature will have burrows starting in rocks, going to (rocky) soil for hunting.

A fully rock digger has in this form already too much trouble keeping up the food in comparison to the hard digging required. If we add things like soil displacement and the like it becomes impossible for this creature to exist if you only handwave super strength.

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make it smart

So we have a mole-like predator that can penetrate rocks and unexpectedly attack animals from below, popping out of the terrain. Some notes: below I use an earth-like environment. Unlike moles, any predator would need working eyes and some accurate heat sensor to use undergrounds. Could a Rock badger survive.. why not..

A predator moving upward through soil or rock will not have a real advantage over predators operating on land, because its digging work will not go unnoticed. Most animals have ears and tactile senses. In its early stages of evolution, the Rock badger would be a modest predator with a well developed sense of smell, it could e.g. go for scavaging, that is stealing prey from other predators. Snatching meat to store undergrounds, for the winter season. No other scavenger would find it.

Later, when your animal can develop better brains, it could devise certain strategies to attack living prey. Slow, deaf animals (like snakes) won't notice the attacker approach and would be quite vulnerable.. Rock badgers can specialize, to hunt certain species.

Animals using caves for winter hibernation are easy to attack. Another strategy would be becoming a night hunter. Day species firm asleep are very vulnerable to attack, because they won't notice the approach. When getting really smart, your species could prepare traps, by dumping large amounts of rocks on a cave's entry. An animal enclosed in that cave, in the dark, without being able to go anywhere can be attacked.

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