Sprawling 8-mile-long ‘canvas’ of ice age beasts discovered hidden in Amazon rainforest
“An 8-mile-long ‘canvas’ filled with ice age drawings of mastodons, giant sloths and other extinct beasts has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest.
The gorgeous art, drawn with ochre — a red pigment frequently used as paint in the ancient world — spans nearly 8 miles (13 kilometers) of rock on the hills above three rock shelters in the Colombian Amazon, a new study finds.
‘These really are incredible images, produced by the earliest people to live in western Amazonia,’ study co-researcher Mark Robinson, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, who analyzed the rock art alongside Colombian scientists, said in a statement.
Indigenous people likely started painting these images at the archaeological site of Serranía La Lindosa, on the northern edge of the Colombian Amazon, toward the end of the last ice age, about 12,600 to 11,800 years ago. During that time, ‘the Amazon was still transforming into the tropical forest we recognize today,’ Robinson said. Rising temperatures changed the Amazon from a patchwork landscape of savannas, thorny scrub and forest into today’s leafy tropical rainforest.
The thousands of ice age paintings include both handprints, geometric designs and a wide array of animals, from the ‘small’ — such as deer, tapirs, alligators, bats, monkeys, turtles, serpents and porcupines — to the ‘large,’ including camelids, horses and three-toed hoofed mammals with trunks. Other figures depict humans, hunting scenes and images of people interacting with plants, trees and savannah creatures. And, although there is also ice age animal rock art in Central Brazil, the new findings are more detailed and shed light on what these now-extinct species looked like, the researchers said.
‘The paintings give a vivid and exciting glimpse into the lives of these communities,’ Robinson said. ‘It is unbelievable to us today to think they lived among, and hunted, giant herbivores, some which were the size of a small car.’”
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