Ancient Cave Drawings Discovered By Scientists Following Pig-Like Beasts in Brazil
Archeologists Estimate Drawings To Be 4,000 To 10,000 Years Old
Tracking pig-like creatures called peccaries in the Cerrado plateau region of Brazil, researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society unexpectedly discovered images of more ancient animals. The scientists found caves with drawings of reptiles, birds, and armadillos etched into stone thousands of years ago.
The discovery of the cave art was made near the remote city of Corguinho in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The drawings are the subject of a recently published study by archeologists Rodrigo Luis Simas de Aguiar and Keny Marques Lima in the journal Revista Clio Arqueológica. The diversity of the renderings, according to the authors, adds significantly to the knowledge of rock art from the Cerrado plateau region that borders the Pantanal. The drawings also include deer and large cats, as well as human-like figures and geometric symbols.
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Archaeologists who examined the rock art said it is likely that hunter-gatherers created the drawings between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago. The diverse styles of the drawings include some resembling ancient art from the central Brazilian plateau, while others seem to resemble art from northeastern Brazil.
"These discoveries of cave drawings emphasize the importance of protecting the Cerrado and Pantanal ecosystems, both for their cultural and natural heritage," Wildlife Conservation Society Director of Latin American and Caribbean programs Julie Kunen said. "We hope to partner with local landowners to protect these cave sites, as well as forests that surround them, so that the cultural heritage and the wildlife depicted in the drawings are preserved for future generations.
"Our work with the Wildlife Conservation Society focuses on promoting sustainable land use practices that help protect important wildlife species and the wild places where they live," said Alexine Keuroghlian, a researcher with WCS's Brazil Program. "Since we often work in remote locations, we sometimes make surprising discoveries, in this case, one that appears to be important for our understanding of human cultural history in the region."
The discovery was made on Brazil's Cerrado plateau in 2009 when Keuroghlian and her team were conducting surveys of white-lipped peccaries, herd-forming pig-like animals that travel long distances and are considered environmental indicators of healthy forests. The peccaries are vulnerable to human activities, such as deforestation and hunting, and are disappearing from large areas of their former range from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
It was the white-lipped peccaries that drew the researchers to the vicinity of the caves, but images of peccaries were not found in the drawings. Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society worked with a local partner NGO, Instituto Quinta do Sol. Co-author of the study archeologist Rodrigo Luis Simas de Aguiar, a regional specialist in cave drawings, said he hopes to conduct cave floor excavations and geological dating at the sites in order to fully interpret the drawings.
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