Newly-discovered Nazca geoglyph of an imaginary creature.

Archaeologists uncover an imaginary creature among the Nazca lines of Peru

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Experts have discovered a new geoglyph 30 meters (100 feet) long among the Nazca lines on an arid plateau in Peru that experts say depicts an imaginary animal with a long tongue. Archaeologists say the rock carving may date back 2,000 years.

The ancient people created the image by removing stones and piling them up, according to . This technique dates back 2,000 to 2,500 years, said Masato Sakai of Japan’s Yamagata University. Dr. Sakai is leading the study of the Nazca lines with a Peruvian archaeologist, Jorge Alano.

The figure’s left side shows possibly a head with the long tongue. On the right side is what the archaeologists are interpreting as a body with legs. Dr. Sakai told National Geographic magazine he thinks the design is of an imaginary creature rather than one from nature.

Dr. Sakai said two other geoglyphs from the same area found in 2011 show two human-like figures in a decapitation scene.

“Taking into account there is an ancient path, between the two geoglyphs heading to the Cahuachi ceremonial site we might say the figures are linked to a pilgrimage way to such religious place,” Dr. Sakai is quoted as saying.

Located in the arid Peruvian coastal plain, some 400 km (248 miles) south of Lima near the town of Nasca, the geoglyphs cover 450 km2 (280 square miles). They are among archaeology's greatest enigmas because of their quantity, nature, size and continuity. The geoglyphs depict living creatures, stylized plants and imaginary beings, as well as geometric figures several kilometers long. The Nazca lines number in the thousands, and the vast majority of them date from 200 BC to 500 AD, to a time when a people referred to as the Nazca inhabited the region.

A collection of Nazca geoglyphs including the humming bird (top left) and monkey (bottom left)

A collection of Nazca geoglyphs including the condor (top left) and dog (bottom left)

The startling feature of the Nazca geoglyphs is that they can only really be appreciated from the air, raising questions about how and why they were created.

A 2015 study has lent support to the theory that, at least initially, the Nazca lines were created so that pilgrims could view the symbols and markings along a ceremonial route that led to the temple complex of Cahuachi, a major center of the Nazca culture, based from 1 AD to about 500 AD in the coastal area of the Central Andes.   

Adobe pyramid at Cahauchi, Peru

Adobe pyramid at Cahauchi, Peru (public domain)

Dr. Sakai and other researchers analyzed the location, style, and method of construction of geoglyphs found at the intersection points of some of the Nazca lines. They found that four different styles of geoglyphs were grouped together along different routes leading to Cahuachi. Archaeological excavation has also revealed shards of broken ceramics at these intersection points.

The 2015 study also suggests that the Nazca lines may have been created by at least two different groups of people who lived in different parts of the desert plateau, and who both created geoglyphs along different pilgrimage routes towards Cahuachi.  

The researchers discovered that the geoglyphs were created in two different ways – one set were made by removing the reddish, iron oxide covered stones from the interior of the images to expose the white sand beneath, while the other set were made by removing stones from the borders of the images.

One set of geoglyphs were made by remove the reddish, iron oxide covered stones

One set of geoglyphs were made by remove the reddish, iron oxide covered stones (pictured)

The Nazca people flourished from about 1 to 700 AD. Scientists think it was the Nazca who made most of the lines, although it is known that the previous Paracas culture also made geoglyphs.

National Geographic says there are more than 800 straight lines, 70 animal and plant designs and 300 geometric figures. Straight lines run as long as 30 miles. The animal and plant designs, or biomorphs, are from 50 (15 meters) to 1,200 feet (356 meters) long.

The lines first came to light in modern when commercial flights were established. Pilots saw the figures for the first time from the air in the 1930s. The fact that the Nazca lines were meant to be seen fully only from the air has led some to speculate that aliens were involved in their making.

Featured image: Newly-discovered Nazca geoglyph of an imaginary creature. Credit: Andina

By Mark Miller


"The fact that the Nazca lines were meant to be seen fully only from the air has led some to speculate that aliens were involved in their making."

Yes, Ancient Origins went there.

"The fact that the underground sewerage system can be seen only with ground-penetrating radar has led some to believe that the pipes were installed by giant Mole People."


Also, while some of the lines were most definitely for guidance in travels (the hummingbird, for example), others were for different purposes: some were astronomical markers (the condor, for example), and some were triangulating vectors for the location of underground water sources (the long, converging lines, for example). Others were probably associated with ceremonial locations. In other words, the Nazca lines and glyphs were built for a number of purposes.

Finally, returning to the UFO theorists who somehow got legitimized by mention in this article, quite a few of the Nazca lines can be seen from the hills surrounding them. Moreover, it would not have been an engineering feat beyond the Nazca to have built tall supervision scaffolds to oversee construction. They were quite creative people, if rather morbid in their choices for home decor accents (like the mummified skulls complete with holes for dangle ropes).

I do dearly love Ancient Origins, and I certainly understand the commercial need for simplification and sensationalization when trying to appeal to a popular audience, but I must say that it takes a little longer to read these articles than it should, given that I must always first go down to my kitchen to take a grain of salt before starting.

And the Incas built Puma Punko.

While I agree with most of what you stated, you come off way too autodidactic. You weren't there, on the Nazca plain, watching the construction from a scaffold made out of sand?! And nobody is legitimized by a single label-drop sentence, sheesh. Truth is, as you stated, these geoglyphs were made for many purposes; the most esoteric of which we will probably never understand.

Triangulation vectors ?????? to what end. I take it you get lost in the bush, city and maybe even your own backyard .the suggestion is more ludicrous than the Ancient Astronaut theory. and suggests the builders would be lost to known water sources or maybe the suggestion is for a future people who would not know of the water source( scarce) and the builders would like to share this rare commodity by drawing lines for kilometers that do not point to the actual water source but rather in a different direction and the lost ones can thus deduce the location by trigonometry, also to suggest no one has visited this planet is the gullible end of a rote system inductee. although I do not adhere to the AA theory, it is a theory with credence given the tech advances in the last 200 years. one day we will be the Ancient Astronaut.

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