Did someone create the tunnel a very long time ago, or did the Room of Requirement create it as soon as Neville and co got hungry?

And how did he get into a tunnel while being in a room starting on the 5th floor or is it just rearranging all the time?

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    Everything's easier when you thinking with portals... – Valorum Apr 1 '16 at 21:16
  • @Richard while this sound great, I don't get why they need a tunnel then? Wouldn't it be easier to wish a portal to Hogsmead instead? – Amabile Scientius Apr 1 '16 at 21:17
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    @AmabileScientius Maybe they didn't think of that – CHEESE Apr 1 '16 at 21:18

Here's what Neville says to explain the appearance.

"It's quite straightforward, really," said Neville modestly. "I'd been in here about a day and a half, and getting really hungry, and wishing I could get something to eat, and that's when the passage to the Hog's Head opened up. I went through it and met Aberforth. He's been providing us with food, because for some reason, that's the one thing the room doesn't do.

Everything he says seems to point towards the fact that the passage appeared after, when Neville was getting hungry.

As for your secondary question, it is simply logic. One would assume that the passage from the seventh floor would be visible from outside the castle, and Harry and Ron would have noticed it, as the Death Eaters would. The passage jumped right from the 7th floor to Ariana's portrait, like a portal, as @Richard said in his coment above. In answer to your comment in response, they did get a portal to Hogsmeade. Ariana's portrait was the optimal place for the exit of such a portal.

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    Which rather beggars the question of why Draco had to spend an entire year sodding around with a vanishing cabinet when he could have just wished up a tunnel to the outside world. – Valorum Apr 1 '16 at 21:41
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    @Richard Searching on the internet, I can't find any reliable source that says it is, though a few unreliable ones such as comments on blog posts or articles. Might turn this into an ELU question... – Rand al'Thor Apr 1 '16 at 21:55
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    @Richard: never heard it as "beggars the question", but in any case, you're using it to mean "raises the question", which is not what "begs the question" means. Well, originally, in any case. (More and more people are using it as a more forceful expression of "raises the question", so it will inevitably come to mean that, eventually, but meantime, curmudgeons like me will rant and rave.) – Martha Apr 1 '16 at 22:00
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    @Martha begs beggars and raises the question actually all mean the same thing. It's a turn of phrase with slight cultural difference. Begs the question is the same as raises the question. It brings it to the forefront and therefore is begging to be asked. Colloquially speaking. – Escoce Apr 1 '16 at 23:54
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    @Escoce: no, actually, "begs the question" means something like "assumes the question", as in, uses circular reasoning. It's the name of a specific logical error. Using it as a synonym of "raises the question" is, strictly speaking, wrong. – Martha Apr 2 '16 at 1:55

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