An ancient design showing what appears to be a 120-foot cat has been discovered in Peru’s Nazca Desert – after laying undiscovered for more than 2,000 years.
The ‘geoglyph’ was found among the Nazca lines – a sprawling UNESCO World Heritage site in the South American country.
It shows a basic etching of a feline figure, with triangular ears and odd markings on its tail, mounted on a hill beside the Pan-American Highway.
Archaeologist Jhonny Isla, who runs the management system for the Nazca-Palpa Archaeological Park, said it had been found during work to improve an access to a visitor look-out point enabling people to view the giant figures that make up the mysterious Nazca Lines. He told local media: ‘We realised the access to the look-out point ran over a geoglyph and we decided to alter it because it’s not possible to promote access by damaging heritage.
‘The additional motive was that access was complicated and we wanted to make it safer.
‘During that process, we realised there were lines that were definitely not natural.’
Mr Isla added: ‘It might seem surprising that new designs are still being found, but we know there are more out there.
‘In the last few years the use of drones, which enable us to take images of the sides of hills, makes that possible.’
Officials have dated the design to between 200BC and 100BC – and say it was ‘hardly visible’ when first noticed.
Peru’s Culture Ministry said in a statement earlier this month: ‘The design was hardly visible when it was first identified and was on the verge of disappearing because it was on a hill with a steep slope and was subject to the effects of natural erosion.
‘Over the past week cleaning and conservation work has taken place which has led to the emergence of the figure of a feline with its body side-on and its head facing forwards.
‘The lines of the geoglyph are around 12 to 15 inches wide in some parts. The figure is 121 feet long.’
Last November it emerged that over 140 Nazca lines dating back around 2,100 years had been uncovered in the Peruvian desert.
The announcement was made by archeologists at Japan’s Yamagata University following a 15-year research effort using satellite imagery, drone footage and AI scanning systems.
They included a bird, humanoids, a two-headed snake and even a ‘killer whale.’
The lines were first ‘discovered’ by archeologists academically in 1927.
Many are so big they can generally only be identified properly from the air.
It is believed they were created between 500BC and 500AD. They typically measure anywhere from 0.2 miles to 0.7 miles across. The drawings depict humans, animals and plants.
Experts believe the lines, thought to have been made by the removal of rocky black topsoil to reveal light-coloured sand underneath, were used in ritual ceremonies and may have served as messages to the gods.
In February 2018 a lorry driver was arrested after ploughing through the ancient lines and leaving ‘irreparable tyre scars’.
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