A huge carving of a monkey with its tail twirled in a spiral; vast, geometric images of a condor and a hummingbird; an immense spider — the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines in Peru have awed and mystified modern viewers since they were first seen from the air last century.
Now, 143 more images have been discovered, etched into a coastal desert plain about 250 miles southeast of Lima, the Peruvian capital. The Japanese researchers who found them combined on-the-ground work with the most modern of tools: satellite photography, three-dimensional imaging and, in one case, artificial intelligence.
The newly discovered carvings, or geoglyphs, depict human forms and a broad variety of animals, including camelids, a group of mammals that includes llamas and alpacas; cats; fish; and snakes, according to the research group from Yamagata University.
The shapes, some of which are believed to date from at least 100 B.C., were mainly identified in the western side of the area through fieldwork — picking through pottery remnants, stones and soil — and by analyzing high-resolution imagery, the university said in a statement last week. The largest are more than 300 feet long.
But one geoglyph was revealed as a result of a collaboration between the university research team and Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence system. [Continue reading…]