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"Wild animals and human figures dominate the rock art, and are incorporated into often-complex scenes involving hunting, supernatural beings, sexual activity (including bestial scenes), skirmishing and dancing. The artists depicted the animals that roamed the local ancient brushwood forest: red deer, armadillo, capivara (a large rodent), jaguar, lizard, tapir, and the giant rhea (a type of ostrich, now extinct), among others. Of these, red deer is the most common. Sometimes the animal is simply painted in outline, other times it is totally infilled, or internally decorated with geometric patterns or rows of dots. The large mammals are usually painted in groups and tend to be shown in a running stance, as though trying to escape from hunting parties.
Processions - lines of human and animal figures - also appear of great importance to these ancient artists. Might such lines represent family units or groups of warriors? On a number of panels, rows of stylistic figures, some numbering up to 30 individual figures, were painted using the natural undulating contours of the rock surface, so evoking the contours of the surrounding landscape. In many examples, the now extinct giant rhea appears in groups of three and four, again suggesting some form of procession. Other interesting, but very rare, occurrences are scenes that show small human figures holding on to and dancing around a tree, possibly involved in some form of a ritual dance - rather similar to the way children traditionally dance around a maypole.
Due to the favourable climatic conditions, the imagery on many panels is in a remarkable state of preservation. Despite this, however, there are serious conservation issues that affect their long-term survival. The chemical and mineral qualities of the rock on which the imagery is painted is fragile and on several panels it is unstable. As well as the secretion of sodium carbonate on the rock surface, complete panel sections have, over the ancient and recent past, broken away from the main rock surface. These have then become buried and sealed into sometimes-ancient floor deposits."
Stylised human figures and a sex scene at Toca
Recently, several before-Clovis sites have been discovered in the Americas. Fossilized feces more than 14,000 years old have been found in Oregon’s Paisley Caves. Stone tools alongside mastodon bones in Florida were recently found to be 14,550 years old. And much further away from northwestern Canada, in southern Chile, humans inhabited Monte Verde at least 14,000 years ago (and possibly even earlier).
Alternate migration routes have been put forth in the past, such as the controversial Solutrean hypothesis, which posits that the first Americans actually came from Europe, not Asia, via a North Atlantic route. But many anthropologists now favor a Pacific coastal route to explain how the first people got to the Americas, though more research is needed to fully understand how these intrepid settlers traveled (perhaps by boat).
“Such a study has been needed for quite some time now,” said Vanderbilt College archaeologist Tom Dillehay, who wasn’t involved in the new study. Dillehay, whose excavations at Monte Verde in the 1970s revealed the site's ancient age, challenging the Clovis First theory—and long considered suspect as a result—told mental_floss that this type of study is just the beginning. “I would like to see more studies of this nature done in other areas of the corridor to confirm this hypothesis—especially at the entrance and exits points of the corridor.”
The Rock Art of Serra da Capivara, Brazil