Hermit and Not a Hummingbird: Scientist Reclassify Etchings at Nazca Lines

A team of scientists from Japan has published a new study identifying new bird geoglyphs at the mysterious Nazca lines in Peru.

One of the most famous geoglyphs of Nazca, a drawing previously thought to be a hummingbird has been reclassified as a hermit.

The new study has brought us one step closer to solving the mystery behind the enigmatic lines, their purpose and meaning and why they were etched in the arid desert floor thousands of years ago.

Hummingbird at Nazca? Not really

The study, publish ed in the Journal of Archaeological Science reports the identification of four of the 16 birds at Nazca. None of the four birds are native to the region: a rainforest-dwelling hermit, a guano bird, as well as two coastal pelicans.

The Hummingbird is actually a Hermit. Shutterstock.
The Hummingbird is actually a Hermit. Shutterstock.

Researchers determined that many of the animals represented in the ancient designs were actually bird species alien to Peru, and this opens new questions like, why were these birds carved on Earth 2,000 years ago?

According to the co-author of the study Masaki Eda, from the Hokkaido University Museum: “Until now, the birds in these drawings have been identified based on general impressions or a few morphological traits present in each figure.”

“We closely noted the shapes and relative sizes of the birds’ beaks, heads, necks, bodies, wings, tails, and feet and compared them with those of modern birds in Peru.”

As noted by experts, despite the fact that the birds drawn on the desert floor do exist in Peru, they are located in parts of the country far away from where the Nazca lines sit today.

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The Nasca people who drew the images could have seen pelicans while food-gathering on the coast,” Eda added.

“Our findings show that they drew exotic birds, not local birds, and this could be a clue as to why they drew them in the first place.”

Now, to find out more about the Pre-Inca people who created the famous Nazca lines, scientists plan to do a further comparison with bird figures that were drawn by the ancients onto pottery dating back to the same time as the Nazca lines.

Hopefully, studying the pottery and archeological sites near the Nazca lines will help us understand more about these intricate carvings and why they were made.