Scientists Baffled by ‘Man-Eating Sand Dune’ That Swallowed Up Six-Year-Old

Scientists say the shifting sands that buried a six-year-old boy defy the laws of physics. The boy, named only as Nathan in the media, was playing on the Mount Baldy sand dune on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

The sands of the dune, estimated to be 4500 years old, shifted in ways scientists don’t yet understand, thanks in part to a wild storm. The shift created a hole that Nathan fell through, feeding into a much larger hole underground.

Nathan’s parents could hear their son’s voice coming out of the small hole left behind, saying he was scared, but it was impossible to see him.

According to ScienceAlert, Erin Argyilan, a geologist from the Indiana University Northwest, was conducting routine research on the dune at the time Nathan was swallowed up. He rushed over to help Nathan’s parents. He was flabbergasted by the enormous hole evidently hidden beneath the sands.

“We’re seeing what appears to be a new geological phenomenon,” she said.

Robotic probes and giant digging vehicles were carted in to help excavate Nathan. Three-and-a-half hours later, the unconscious boy was recovered a little after 8 pm. Experts believe an air pocket within the dune may have saved his life.

During excavation, scientists observed cylindrical, empty holes inside the sand dune that would fill up as soon as they could be uncovered. Read more on the still-unfathomable phenomenon at the Smithsonian.