Category Archives: SOUTH AMERICA

Giant Prehistoric Shark Teeth Discovered In The Desert

Giant Prehistoric Shark Teeth Discovered In The Desert

Several giant teeth from an extinct prehistoric megalodon shark have been found in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and a top expert has said that despite treasure hunters pillaging the area, the South American country still has “one of the largest scientific collections of megalodon teeth in the world.”

The discovery of the giant teeth belonging to the prehistoric shark that is believed to have lived between 23 million and 2 million years ago took place in the Bahia Inglesa Formation, located in the Atacama Desert near the Pacific coast of northern Chile.

The megalodon — whose name means big teeth — was “by far the largest shark of all time, a super predator whose length is estimated to be between 16 and 20 meters (52 and 66 feet) long,” said Pablo Quilodran executive director of the Atacama Paleontology and Natural History Research and Advancement Corp.

“In the Atacama region, there are extraordinary fossil deposits, and in the case of the coast, there are remains of marine vertebrates from about 8 million years ago (the Neogene period).”

Extensive mining operations and looting by treasure hunters had led to possibly hundreds of teeth from megalodons and other prehistoric artifacts being sold on the black market, said Quilodran.

“Although in Chile fossils are protected by law, for many years one of the most spectacular localities, the Bahia Inglesa Formation, was the victim of destruction by deregulated mining operations and from looting by illegal fossil hunters,” he said.

On a more positive note, he said some looted artifacts have been returned to Chile in recent years, allowing it to build the world’s most impressive collection.

“According to informal counts, we know that hundreds of megalodon teeth were found and sold on the international market. Some of them were returned to the Paleontological Museum of the city of Caldera and the Chilean National Museum of Natural History.

The largest Megalodon tooth measures 7.48 Inches and comes from the Ocucaje desert in Peru.

“With this, we undoubtedly have one of the largest scientific collections of megalodon teeth in the world.”

How is it teeth from a marine animal were found in the middle of a desert?

“Because the sea level has changed over millions of years (marine transgression and regression),” the expert said. “This is visible not only in the abundant marine fossils found in sediments today but also in the geomorphology of this part of the desert, where we can see natural esplanades, which are ancient marine terraces that testify to these different sea levels.

“In short, the sea has receded, but the ground has also risen as a result of earthquakes and subduction of plates, phenomena that we Chileans know and experience so well.”

Such finds are nothing new; English naturalist and evolution theorist Charles Darwin reported having found some megalodon teeth during his trip to Chile in 1835, Quilodran said, while recent discoveries had put the total number of different shark species found in the area to 25.

“In the case of sharks, it is not only megalodon; we recently found a new sawshark record for the area, which adds up to more than 25 different species of shark that have been found in the sector.”

A lot of these discoveries were apparently due to sheer luck. “Many of these findings are fortuitous and did not respond to systematic scientific activity,” Quilodran said.

But future discoveries will likely be subject to more rigorous planning, due to the recent creation of the Atacama Paleontology and Natural History Research and Advancement Corp.

The implications of the discoveries of megalodon teeth in the Atacama Desert are huge for science, with Quilodran saying: “The unusual abundance of megalodon remains in this part of the desert opens up expectations for new knowledge about many aspects of ancient life regarding this remarkable species of shark.

“For example, what and how did it eat? New estimates of body size, growth speed, whether it was solitary or gregarious, internal temperature and paleo-environmental data, are among many other topics that may be addressed.

“For its part, the Bahia Inglesa site also has an abundance of remains of bony fish, marine mammals, birds and even reptiles, and all the research potential to understand the evolution of a great diversity of different lineages of marine vertebrates is gigantic.”

The recently discovered megalodon teeth will eventually end up in a museum, where the public will be able to view them.

Comparison of fossilized Megalodon (7 inches) and Great White Shark teeth (2 inches).

Might the megalodon still exist? No, Quilodran says: “The megalodon became extinct due to possible climatic changes around 2 million years ago.”

Still, it “is always possible to find new species and animals that have gone unnoticed by science, but at 16 meters [52 feet] long, it would be very difficult to have not detected it,” he said.

Despite megalodon being the largest shark of all time, it’s possible an even larger predator of another species preyed on it.

“Megalodon was a super-predator that was possible at the top of the food chain … however, teeth from another marine vertebrate have been found, this time a super-predatory cetacean that could rival this shark,” Quilodran said. “This cetacean, a relative of sperm whales, is called Leviathan and its fossils have also been found on the Atacama coast.”

Discovery of 16,000-year-old Footprint That Could Change the History of the Americas

Discovery of 16,000-year-old Footprint That Could Change the History of the Americas

There are some discoveries that can change the way that we think about history. Archaeologists in Chile believe that they have made one such discovery. They have uncovered a human footprint that is approximately 15,500-16,000 years old.

It is the earliest evidence yet found of humans in the Americas. The imprint has the potential to change how we believe the continent was settled and who were its first inhabitants.

The imprint was found at the late Pleistocene period archaeological site of Pilauco, which according to “where scientists have been digging since 2007.”

The Pilauco site had also yielded evidence of extinct elephants and horses and is located in the Chilean city of Osorno some 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Santiago, the capital of Chile.

The Pleistocene footprint is the oldest surviving human footprint in the Americas.

A Pleistocene Footprint

The footprint was found in 2010, near a modern house, by “a student at the Universidad Austral of Chile” according to Reuters. While the impression may appear to be clearly a human footprint, the scientists were cautious, as it could have been an animal’s tracks which had become misshapen and elongated over-time. It is believed that the imprint was buried under three feet of residue, which preserved it for posterity.

The Irish state broadcaster RTE reports that ‘”it took years for paleontologist Karen Moreno and geologist Mario Pino to reliably confirm that the print was human.”

It was only established by carrying out footprint tests with people and this proved that the imprint was human. These also established that it was made by a “barefooted adult human who was of ‘light body weight’” according to the Daily Mail .

Based on foot printing tests they conducted, scientists think the print comes from a straight down step. The diagram shows the different type of prints that could be made with different angles and pressure.

It is believed that the footprint is of a man who weighed 155 pounds (70 kilograms) and according to, was “of the species Hominipes modernus, a relative of Homo sapiens .”

This was established by ichnologicaly, that is by the scientific examination of the traces found in the sediment. Ichnologists comparing the mark with other traces were able to establish that it was H. modernus.

To establish if the Pleistocene footprint was human and how it was made, scientists performed foot printing tests on soil at different soil moisture levels and with different foot angles and pressures.

The Earliest Evidence of Humans

Scientists were able to date the find by using radiocarbon dating techniques that analyzed organic plant material near where the print was located and established that it was approximately 15,600 years old.

This made it according to RTE, the “oldest footprint found in the Americas.” While other prints have been unearthed, none are as old as the one found in the city of Osorno. It seems that the site was occupied by humans for some time as footprints dated a thousand years later have also been uncovered.

The Daily Mail reports that “this was the first evidence of humans in the Americas older than 12,000 years.” Previously it had been believed that the first inhabitants of the continent arrived from Siberia via the Bearing Straits some 10,000 years ago. This discovery is challenging the idea that Clovis Man, a paleo-Indian culture was the first to settle the continent.

Archeologist working on site of the location were Pleistocene footprint was discovered.

Who First Settled the Americas?

According to Plos One , the find provides evidence of “the colonization of northern Patagonia” in the late Pleistocene period . The footprint is supporting evidence found at the Monte Verde , Chile, that this region in the extreme south of the Americas was colonized much earlier than thought.

This, in turn, is supporting the so-called coastal migration model. This holds that the first settlers to inhabit the Americas migrated by following coastlines and may suggest that Pacific Islanders were the first to settle on the continent.

The impression and its surrounding sediment has been removed from the Osorno site and is now stored in a specially regulated environment. It has cracked somewhat as the moisture in the soil has dried but the impression is still distinct. The print could be put on display at some later date, but this depends on the state of the traces.

1,200-Year-Old Telephone, Amazing Invention of the Ancient Chimu Civilization

1,200-Year-Old Telephone, Amazing Invention of the Ancient Chimu Civilization

A 1,200-year-old telephone, a marvel of ancient invention, surprises almost all who hear about it. Reportedly found in in the ruins of Chan Chan, Peru, the delicate communication artifact is known as the earliest example of telephone technology in the Western Hemisphere.

This seemingly out-of-place-artifact is evidence of the impressive innovation of the coastal Chimu people in the Río Moche Valley of northern Peru. Ramiro Matos, curator of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) told Smithsonian, “This is unique. Only one was ever discovered. It comes from the consciousness of an indigenous society with no written language .”

A man dressed as a Chimu elite or priest among the ruins of Chan Chan, Peru.

How was the Chimu Telephone Made?

The early “telephone” appears to be a rudimentary speech transmission device, much like the “lover’s telephone” that has been known for hundreds of years, but which became popular in the 19th century.

The old lover’s telephone was usually comprised of tin cans connected with string, used to speak back and forth; and mostly seen as a novelty. However the ancient Chimu device, described as an instrument, is composed of two gourd tops bound with a length of cord.

The gourds, each 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters) long are coated in resin and act as transmitters and receivers of sound. Around each of the gourd bases is a stretched-hide membrane. The 75-foot (22.8 meter) line connecting the two ends is made of cotton-twine.The simplicity of the device disguises its archaeological implications.

The enigmatic ancient communication device. Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

The Mystery of the Precious Ancient Telephone

This one-of-a-kind artifact reportedly predates the earliest research into telephones from 1833 (which began with non-electric string devices) by more than a thousand years.

The gourd-and-string device is too fragile to physically test, but researchers can piece together how the instrument might have worked. What they must continue to speculate on, however, is how the Chimu used this ancient phone: what was its purpose?

As the Chimu are known to have been a top-down society , it stands to reason that only the elite or priest class would have been in possession of such a valuable instrument, posits Matos. The precious telephone, with the seemingly magical ability to channel voices across space to be heard directly in the ear of the receiver was, “a tool designed for an executive level of communication,” according to Matos.

There might have been many applications for this old phone, such as communication between novices or assistants and their higher-ranking elites through chambers or anterooms. No face-to-face contact would have been needed, preserving status and ensuring security.

Like many other ancient marvels , the Chimu telephone might also have been a device to astound the faithful . Disembodied voices emitting from a hand-held object might have shocked and convinced people of the importance and station of the upper class or priests.

Or, there are some who consider the gourd and twine object as merely a child’s toy. If such novelties are not our modern sacred objects, why must they have been believed to be religious items or priestly tools to humans of the past?

The artifact was in the possession of Baron Walram V. Von Schoeler, a Prussian aristocrat, who is less flatteringly described as a “shadowy Indiana Jones-type adventurer.” He participated in many excavations in Peru in the 1930s, and may have dug up the artifact himself from the ruins of Chan Chan .

He distributed his collection among various museums, and the artifact eventually ended up at the storage facility of the National Museum of the American Indian in Maryland, USA, where it is treated delicately, and preserved in a temperature controlled environment as one of the museum’s greatest treasures.

The god Naymlap on his boat, gold plate, Chimu

Signs of a Skillful, Inventive People

Matos, an anthropologist and archaeologist specializing in the study of the central Andes explained, “The Chimu were a skillful, inventive people,” who were an impressive engineering society. This can be shown by their hydraulic canal-irrigation systems and their highly detailed, elaborate metalwork and artifacts.

Chan Chan sculpture and architecture.

The Chimu were the people of the Kingdom of Chimor, and their beautiful capital city was Chan Chan (translated as Sun Sun ), a sprawling mud brick complex —the largest such adobe site in the world— and it was the largest city in Pre-Columbian South America.

 Chan Chan was almost 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles), and was inhabited by 100,000 residents during its height around 1200 AD. The entire city was made from shaped and sun-dried mud, and was elaborately decorated with sculptures, reliefs, and wall carvings on almost every surface.

The amazing constructions of the Chimu capital city, Chan Chan.

The Chimu culture arose about 900 AD, but it was eventually conquered by the Inca around 1470 AD.The Chimu telephone, and many other amazing ancient technologies, remind us that ancient cultures were capable of marvelous inventions , ideas, and creations long before our ‘sophisticated’ modern societies dreamed them up (sometimes for a second time).

1,200-Year-Old Ceremonial Temple with Six Female Sacrifice Victims Unearthed in Peru

1,200-Year-Old Ceremonial Temple with Six Female Sacrifice Victims Unearthed in Peru

In a 1,200-year-old ceremonial temple in Peru, archeologists have unearthed the remains of six women, believed to be connected to the Lambayeque culture, who appear to have been killed in a ritual sacrifice at a secret compound.

According to, the six women were most probably ritually killed in a secret part of the temple, where archeologists also found remains of llama and ceramics. The bodies were buried beneath the ancient temple in the Pucalá district of Peru. All of the women had been positioned into unusual shapes so that their heads were facing the Andes mountain range.

Edgar Bracamonte, the head of the Peruvian group of archaeologist told Daily Mail : “We have discovered a temple around 1,200-years-old and which was a secret enclosure that priests used to sacrifice women to their gods.

It was used for private ceremonies. It has platforms and a central ramp that was covered with earth, where they left a large quantity of offerings. We found six buried women in different places.’”

Archaeologist studying one of the female skeletons discovered in the Huaca Santa Rosa at Pucalá.

The Mysterious Lambayeque culture

The Lambayeque culture, also known as the Sican culture, dominated the north coast of Peru between 750 and 1375 AD, probably succeeding the Moche culture. The Lambayeque built large religious cities dominated by huge temples.

As Edgar Bracamonte said for Daily Mail : ”What caught our attention was the unusual position of a young woman of around 24-years-old. She was positioned in the center of the ramp together with a llama and ceramic pots. This finding is very important because it reveals to us a close relationship between the Mochicas and the Lambayeque culture.”

Example of a Lambayeque burial with grave goods.

The unusual sacrifices predate the spread of the Inca civilization by several hundred years and the bodies were found at a temple that was once part of the Lambayeque culture. Moreover, the discovery proved the connections between different pre-Inca civilizations.

The bodies had been placed in the same direction, and were surrounded by artifacts that show similar rituals present in the Moche, Wari and Cajamarca civilizations.

The Cajamarca civilization flourished between 200AD and 800AD, the Moche between 100 AD and 800 AD, and the Wari civilization existed between 600 AD and 1100 AD. The Lambayeque culture endured until around 1375AD, and were followed by the Inca civilization.  

The recent discovery at Pucalá is reminiscent of another finding made in 2013, in which Polish archeologists discovered a massive royal tomb full of mummified women . The analysis of the bodies provided clues about the enigmatic Wari empire that ruled the Andes before the Incas.

It was the first time that archeologists had discovered an imperial tomb of the Wari culture. The mausoleum, located at a coastal pyramid site called El Castillo de Huarmey, 185 miles north of Lima, contained gold pieces, ceramics and 63 skeletons that dated back about 1,300 years.

Most of the mummies were women sitting upright and buried with finely engraved ear pieces made of precious metal that were believed to be used only by men.

Around the royals were six skeletons which were lying on their bellies, in an extended position with their limbs arranged in different directions. The skeletons were not wrapped in textiles and appeared to have been sacrifices for the mummified elite.

The remains of some of the sacrifice victims found at El Castillo de Huarmey

The reason behind the human sacrifices of the Lambayeque culture , which are primarily connected with women, and less frequently with men, has remained a mystery for archeologists. At a site known as Huaca Loro, 24 sets of human remains belonging to females aged between 18 and 25 years were found.

The women had been sacrificed, possibly to accompany the elite males into the afterlife. However, at the site of Huaca Las Ventas, most of sacrifice victims were men. It is theorized that they were volunteers who were engaged in a ritual of the celebration of death.

Island in the Clouds: Is Mount Roraima Really A ‘Lost World’ Where Dinosaurs May Still Exist?

Island in the Clouds: Is Mount Roraima Really A ‘Lost World’ Where Dinosaurs May Still Exist?

Deep within the rainforests of Venezuela, a series of plateaus sit more than 9000 feet (2743 meters) above sea level and rise up 1310 feet (400 m) from the surrounding terrain like table tops. From above, they look like islands in the sky.

These are the tepuis (a Pemón Indian word for mountain), the most famous of which is called Mount Roraima. The tepuis are so unique in their geography that thousands of plant species exist nowhere else on the planet except on these plateaus.

The mystical mountains fascinated explorers and writers for centuries, most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who described an ascent of Mount Roraima in his 1912 novel The Lost World .

In Doyle’s novel, a group of explorers found that dinosaurs and other extinct creatures were still alive and well on the remote plateaus. Some people today still believe this to be a real possibility.

An illustration from Doyle’s ‘Lost World’ in which explorers encounter dinosaurs atop Mount Roraima.

The Real Lost World

Once impenetrable to all but the Pemón indigenous people, Mount Roraima really was a lost world. The mountain plateaus were already established when South America was linked with Africa to form the supercontinent Gondwana, meaning they were first formed perhaps 400 to 250 million years ago.

During this time, molten rock forced its way up through cracks in the sandstone landmass. At the same time, wind and water swept across Gondwana to erode the raised highlands into mountain ranges. The region would come to look much like it does now around 20 million years ago.

Because the tepuis have been isolated for so long atop their high, lonely plateaus, the flora and fauna of the tepuis provide an organic illustration of the processes of evolution.

It is guessed that “at least half of the estimated 10,000 plant species here are unique to tepuis and surrounding lowlands. New species are still being discovered.” (George, 1989).

Although all of the tepuis have been climbed, only a few have been extensively explored. Could this mean that supposedly extinct species, even dinosaurs, may still exist atop these remote plateaus?

Mount Roraima.

Could the Legends be Real?

The Roraima plateaus are so remote and so unique that it is not difficult to imagine Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creating a world alive with prehistoric plants and dinosaurs in his novel The Lost World . Doyle was fascinated with the accounts of British botanist Everard Im Thurn, who climbed to the top of Mount Roraima in December 1884.

Ascending Mount Roraima in 1989 for the National Geographic Society, German explorer Uwe George said, “None of us who followed Im Thurn to Roraima have found primordial creatures or their fossil remains there, but the terrain is so difficult that only a fraction of the tepui’s 44 square miles has so far been explored” (George, 1989). Since his writing, more of Mount Roraima has been investigated and, unsurprisingly, no traces of dinosaurs have been found.

It is not hard to imagine dinosaurs walking atop these remote and ancient lands, but no evidence has been found to suggest this could be the case.

Sacred Ground

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the natives of Venezuela viewed the tepuis as having special mythical significance. According to the Pemón Indians, Mount Roraima is “the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world,” however it was “felled by one of their ancestors, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood” (Naeem, 2011). They believed that if a person ascended to the top of the tepuis, he or she would not come back alive.

A ‘Crystal Mountain Covered with Diamonds and Waterfalls’

Climbing the tepuis is exceedingly difficult and is made all the more so by the frequent rains that make the rocky footpaths slippery and muddy. The first European explorer to write about the tepuis was Sir Walter Raleigh in 1595. He wrote of a crystal mountain covered with diamonds and waterfalls.

There is a good chance that Sir Raleigh was describing Angel Falls, so named for the mid-20th century American Jimmie Angel who was the first person to fly over the area. Angel Falls were recently featured in Disney’s Up, where the falls are referred to as Paradise Falls.

A scene from Disney movie ‘Up’ showing ‘Paradise Falls’, which were based on Angel Falls at Mount Roraima.

There is a good chance that Sir Raleigh was describing Angel Falls, so named for the mid-20th century American Jimmie Angel who was the first person to fly over the area. Angel Falls were recently featured in Disney’s Up, where the falls are referred to as Paradise Falls.

Archaeologists find 3,000-year-old megalithic temple in Peru

Archaeologists find 3,000-year-old megalithic temple in Peru

A 3,000-year-old ancient temple has been discovered in Peru by a team of Peruvian archaeologists, who think it may have been used by pagans for ‘rituals of water worship’.

The religious monument is over 131ft long and is located in the springs of the Zaña Valley river about 500miles from Lima, the modern capital of Peru. 

Inside the temple archaeologists found a square with an alter that was likely used to offer important fertility rituals with water taken from the Zaña Valley river.

The religious monument, as seen here, is over 131ft long and includes the remains of large stone blocks and a central staircase

The megalith structure was found at the Huaca El Toro site in the Lambayeque region of Peru by a team led by Walter Alva, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1987.

The temple still features the remains of large stone blocks and a long staircase. ‘This discovery is unique because it is the only megalithic architecture in Lambayeque,’ said Dr Alva.

The site was discovered in October 2021 but the news of its finding was delayed to reduce the risk of treasure hunters taking artefacts that hadn’t been secured. 

The temple comes from a time when water was considered divine and was used in a number of rituals and religious practices, researchers claim. 

Archaeologists from Peru, seen here, found stunning walls surrounding the monument as well as a central alter likely used for fertility rituals

They were able to determine this temple was home to a cult that worshipped water by studying the way they alter is positioned and how it looks.

The altar includes holes similar to those found in other temples from the period. ‘This is typical of water altars that are in other places, and it is located in the springs of the Zaña Valley river’, Mr Alva said.

Mr Alva said they have identified a circular column, where evidence of sedimentation of rains and rituals was found.

‘This temple is facing the mountain. This place is strictly ceremonial because of the signs of burning that took place.’

‘The rituals were performed for fertility,’ he said.  Stunning walls surround the monument and there is a central staircase that is 32ft wide and 49ft long.

The Peruvian team discovered 21 tombs on the site of the temple which is thought to date back to about 1,500 BC to 292 AD.

Inside the tombs, they found ceramic pieces and metal objects such as knives that were placed next to the graves. 

They found a staircase on the site that was 32ft wide and 49ft long

Mr Alva says it is likely the tombs were later reused as 20 burial sites were from the later Inca Chimu culture which dates back to about 1,000 to 1,470 AD. 

This isn’t the first major discovery made by Walter Alva and his team. 

The archaeologist also discovered the tomb of the Lord of Sipan in 1987. Sipan was a ruler of Mochica culture and his remains were found intact in Northern Peru. 

In 2007 he discovered a number of 4,000-year-old murals in Peru. They show a deer caught in a net and are thought to be the oldest murals in the Americas. 


Archaeologists discover passageways in 3,000-year-old Peruvian temple

Archaeologists have excavated a network of passageways under a 3,000-year-old temple in the Peruvian Andes. Chavin de Huantar temple was once a religious and administrative hub for people across the region, Reuters reported.

Archaeologists work on the new discovery in the Peruvian Andes in Ancash

Found earlier this month, the passageways have features believed to have been built earlier than the temple’s labyrinthine galleries, according to an archaeologist at Stanford University.

John Rick, who was involved in the discovery, said: “It’s a passageway, but it’s very different. It’s a different form of construction. It has features from earlier periods that we’ve never seen in passageways.”

At least 35 underground passageways, which sit 3,200m above sea level, have been found over several years, connecting with each other.

They were built between 1,200 and 200 years BC in the foothills of the Andes.

Chavin de Huantar, declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, was the inspiration and name of the operation carried out when the Peruvian armed forces built a network of tunnels to rescue 72 people taken hostage by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) rebel group at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima in 1997.

The archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is seen some 155 miles (250 km) north of Lima on september, 2022.

It comes as archaeologists uncovered an “unprecedented” network of lost cities in the Amazon that shed light on how ancient civilisations constructed vast urban landscapes while living alongside nature.

Researchers used lidar technology, dubbed “lasers in the sky”, to scan through the tropical forest canopy, and examine sites found in the savannah forest of southwest Amazonia.

They uncovered a wide range of intricate settlements that have laid hidden under thick tree canopies for centuries in the Llanos de Mojos savannah forest in Bolivia.

The findings, described in the journal Nature on Wednesday, shed light on cities built by the Casarabe communities between AD500 and AD1400.

Heiko Prumers, an archaeologist and study co-author from the German Archaeological Institute, said the complexity of the settlements was “mind-blowing”.

The site features an unprecedented array of elaborate and intricate structures “unlike any previously discovered” in the region, including 5m high terraces covering 22 hectares – the equivalent of 30 football pitches – and 21m tall conical pyramids, say the scientists, including Jose Iriarte from the University of Exeter in the UK.

Researchers examined six areas within a 4,500 sq km region of the Llanos de Mojos, in the Bolivian Amazon, that belonged to the Casarabe culture.

They also found a vast network of reservoirs, causeways, and checkpoints, spanning several kilometres at the site.

Oldest Human Footprint in Americas May Be This 15,600-Year-Old Mark in Chile

Oldest Human Footprint in Americas May Be This 15,600-Year-Old Mark in Chile

This illustration shows how the ancient footprint may have been made about 15,600 years ago in what is now Chile.

The earliest human footprint on record in the Americas wasn’t found in Canada, the United States or even Mexico; it was found much farther south, in Chile, and it dates to an astonishing 15,600 years ago, a new study finds.

The finding sheds light on when humans first reached the Americas, likely by traveling across the Bering Strait land bridge in the midst of the last ice age.

This 10.2-inch-long (26 centimeters) print might even be evidence of pre-Clovis people in South America, the group that came before the Clovis, which are known for their distinctive spearheads, the researchers said.

The find suggests that pre-Clovis people were in northern Patagonia (a region of South America) for some time, as the footprint is older than archaeological evidence from Chile’s Monte Verde, a site about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south containing artifacts that are at least 14,500 years old.

Vertebrate paleontologist Leonora Salvadores discovered the footprint in December 2021, when she was an undergraduate student at the Austral University of Chile.

At the time, Salvadores and her fellow students were investigating a well-known archaeological site known as Pilauco, which is about 500 miles (820 km) south of Santiago, Chile.

This footprint is about 15,600 years old.

However, it took years for study lead researcher and paleontologist Karen Moreno and study lead investigator and geologist Mario Pino, both at the Austral University of Chile, to verify that the print was human, radiocarbon date it (they tested six different organic remnants found at that layer to be sure) and determine how it was made by a barefoot adult.

Part of these tests involved walking through similar sediment to see what kinds of tracks got left behind. These experiments revealed that the ancient human likely weighed about 155 lbs. (70 kilograms) and that the soil was quite wet and sticky when the print was made.

It appears that a clump of this sticky dirt clung to the person’s toes and then fell into the print when the foot was lifted, as the image below suggests.

This sequence shows how the footprint may have been made.

The footprint is classified as a type called Hominipes modernus, a footprint usually made by Homo sapiens, the researchers said. (Just like species, trace fossils, such as footprints, receive scientific names.) Previous excavations at the site revealed other late Pleistocene fossils, including the bones of elephant relatives, llama relatives and ancient horses, as well as rocks that humans may have used as tools, the researchers said.

The study “adds to a growing body of fossil and archaeological evidence suggesting that humans dispersed throughout the Americas earlier than many people have previously thought,” said Kevin Hatala, an assistant professor of biology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was not involved with the study.

This find comes a mere year after the discovery of the oldest known human footprints in North America, which date to 13,000 years ago, Hatala noted.

It would be nice to have more data from the Chile site — “more footprints, more artifacts, more skeletal material and so on,” Hatala told  in an email.

“But unfortunately, the fossil and archaeological records are never as generous as we’d like! With just a single human footprint to work with, the authors extracted as much information as they could. When we look at this evidence in the context of other data, it makes a strong case for the antiquity of [the] human presence in Patagonia.”

The footprint is now preserved in a glass box and is housed at the recently established Pleistocene Museum in the city of Osorno, Chile. 

‘Mind Blowing’ Discovery Reveals Ancient Settlements Hidden in the Amazon

‘Mind Blowing’ Discovery Reveals Ancient Settlements Hidden in the Amazon

In a groundbreaking study released last week, archaeologists have revealed an amazing discovery in the Amazon. As reported by Nature, a team of researchers has found the remains of ancient settlements in the river basin, a place that was thought to have been untouched by man until the arrival of Europeans.

This discovery turns centuries of history on its head, revealing a civilization that existed in a place where most felt it was impossible. The archaeologists who made the discovery say there are still many questions that need answering but describe the complexity and scope of the settlements as “mind-blowing.”

Densely Populated Urban Centers

Historians and archaeologists have known that man has occupied the Amazon Basin for at least 10,000 years. But until now, it was widely believed that the humans that lived along the planet’s mightiest river did so only in small tribes.

The discovery detailed in the report indicates that the ancient settlements that have been identified were surprisingly large in size and were densely populated urban environments. In other words, cities that were home to a lot of people.

 The structures that made up these cities are covered in mud and foliage and sit in the southwest corner of the river basin. Conventional wisdom amongst historians had long held that the thin soil found in the Amazon wasn’t rich enough to support the large-scale agriculture needed to support a large civilization. And while rumors and myth persisted of ancient cities located in the jungle, there was little evidence to support those stories.

The research team behind the current report used lidar—high-tech equipment that uses laser to penetrate the rainforest canopy—to scan the unusual mounds back in 2022. It has taken until now to review all of the data and identify the identify the structures that are hidden underneath. What the found surprised and shocked them in terms of sophistication and size.

The Casarabe Civilization

The initial research began following the discover of remenants of the Casarabe people in the area. This mysterious tribe existed in the southwest Amazon basin around 1500 years ago, although not a lot is known about them.

While exploring the mounts, archaologists came across a stone wall, grave platforms, and other indications of a permanent settlement. It was based on those findings that they decided to use lidar to see what they could find.

After sweeping the area with the lidar technology installed on a helicopter, the scans were reviewed and the scope of the Casarabe civilization began to be made clear.

The researchers were able to idnetify 26 urban areas—including 11 that they weren’t expecting to find. Those ancient settlements include 22-meter (72 feet) tall earthen pyramids and extensive elevated road system that connected the cities.

To put the size of the find in perspective, two of the individual settlements covered an area larger than 100 hectares or roughly three times the size of the vatican.

Several of the urban centers had six-meter tall walls surrounding them and it is belived that the Casarabe lived in neighborhoods that sat in the shadow of the pyramids.

Abandoned Settlements

According to the study, the Casarabe came to prominance around 500 AD and occupied the cities for 900 years. After that, the ancient settlements were abandoned for some unknown reason and the civilizaiton disappeared. What became of them remains a mystery.

By the time Europeans arrived in the region in the 16th century, the jungle had reclaimed the ancient cities. To anyone passing by, the mounds just appeared to be islands in the river, with no indication of what lay underneath.

If it weren’t for the use of lidar—something that has been used extensively by other archaeolgical expeditions—the cities probably would never have been found.

This discovery also gives some credance to the legends of Amazon cities of gold that tempted Spanish conquistadors for decades. To other tribes living in the river basin, this large civilization must have appeared to be unbelievably advanced and wealthy.

It could also give credance to the idea that such civilizations could have exited elsewhere in the region, hinting at other major discoveries yet to be found.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Lidar is an incredible technology and everytime a discovery like this one is made, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there, waiting to be found. I also can’t wait to find out.

DNA Tests Reveal That Paracas Skulls Are Not Human -Archaeology and Ancient Civilization

DNA Tests Reveal That Paracas Skulls Are Not Human -Archaeology and Ancient Civilization

Situated completely within the province of Isco, Paracas is a desert peninsula in the Ica Region, on the southern coast of Peru. It is this place that witnessed the most mysterious findings by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C.

Tello, the “father of Peruvian archaeology”, in 1928. He came into contact with a complex and sophisticated burial site under the harsh surface of the Paraca desert while unearthing.

Upon entering the cemetery, the Peruvian archaeologist found a number of controversial skeletal remains that would alter our perception of our predecessors forever. Inside the tombs are, perhaps, the 300 largest elongated skulls ever found on Earth, named Paracas skulls, dating back 3,000 years ago.

In the event that the shape of the skulls might not have been mysterious enough, archaeologists recently conducted DNA examination on some selected skull samples, producing some enigmatic and incredible results challenging every knowledge we have been taught  about our origin and the predecessors.

Deformation of the skull: An ancient religious practice

The skull deformation techniques performed on the mentioned Paracas skulls were different from those around the world, leading to the produced items differ as well.

Some notable tribes in the South America have carried out the method of binding baby skulls to transform their shape, creating drastically elongated heads.

Putting enough pressure gradually over a long time with the help of ancient tools, these indigenous people succeeded in carrying out cranial deformations found in ancient African societies as well.

An interesting feature of this technique is that it only altered the shape of the skulls while still maintaining the same cranial size, weight and volume, compared to regular human skulls.

Well, this is where Paracas skulls strike. They are at least 25% bigger and up to 60% heavier than ordinary skulls, which is believed to be unable to achieve with those techniques.

Furthermore, the structures of the skulls are completely different from normal ones, only having one parietal palate compared to two in regular skulls.

These strange features remain mysterious for a couple of decades as experts are still unable to discover who possessed such strangely-formed skulls.

Later tests made the Paracas skulls more enigmatic

5 samples of the Paracas skulls, including hair, teet, skin and bone fragments, were sent for genetic examination by the director of the Paracas Museum of History, giving astonishing results.

The details produced by the analysis were incredible, further fueling the mysteries surround the skulls. Even the lab that conducted the analysis wasn’t informed in advance of the skull origins to steer clear of ‘affecting the results.’

Mitochondrial DNA, maternally passed down from mother to offspring, surprisingly showed mutations that were mysteriously undetermined to any man, primate or animal ever known.

The samples contained mutations suggesting that experts were working on the skulls of an entirely new ‘human’, completely contradicting with Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans.

In the past, similar outcome has been produced from the analysis on Star Child Skull found around 1930 in a mine tunnel, about 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua City, Mexico.

The people whom the Paracas skulls belong to were depicted to be too different in terms of biology for ordinary people are unable to interbreed with. “I’m not sure this fits into the known evolutionary tree,” wrote the geneticist.

Who were these mysterious beings? Did they evolve separately on earth? What caused them to have such drastic differences from ordinary human beings?

And is it possible that these beings did not come from the earth? All of these possibilities are theories that cannot be nullified given current evidence.

All we know so far is that there are many things that are beyond the understanding of researchers, historians and scientists. It is possible that after all, the question of whether we are alone in the universe can be answered thanks to the Paracas skulls.