Live PARROTS transported across the Andes were used for the feather trade in the Atacama Desert 900 years ago
Parrots were transported across the Andes nearly 1,000 years ago so vendors could sell their colorful feathers to customers in the Atacama Desert, a study finds.
Analysis of six mummified species revealed they were transported more than 300 miles from their native region in the eastern Amazon to the arid land over the mountains.
During their lifetime, they were caught from the wild, kept in cages tied to llamas, and fed corn with their plumage plucked regularly.
Vibrant feathers were very valuable items in pre-Columbian societies across South America, with owners keeping them in trunks and often buried with them.
Scroll down for video
Parrots were transported across the Andes nearly 1,000 years ago so vendors could sell their colorful feathers to customers in the Atacama Desert, a study found.
Vibrant parrot feathers were very valuable items in pre-Columbian societies across South America, with owners keeping them in suitcases and often buried with them
While the importance of feathers was known to South American civilizations long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the role of bird mummification remains puzzling.
Twenty-seven samples, partially or completely preserved, were studied by researchers.
The birds had their intestines sucked out through their cloaca, the same opening through which the yard waste is excreted and then wrapped in cloths or bags.
Co-author of the paper, Dr. José M. Capriles, assistant professor of anthropology at Penn State University, says, “We have absolutely no idea why they were mummified this way.”
They were found to be up to 900 years old and belong to six species: the scarlet macaw, blue-yellow macaw, mealy amazon, yellow-crowned amazon, blue-crowned amazon and miter parakeet.
Isotope analysis of their remains revealed that the location where they died was not where they were born.
Instead, it proved that they ended up in the Atacama Deserts, the driest place in the world, after being born in the Amazon rainforest across the continent.
Researchers believe that traders used llama caravans to haul the birds across the 10,000-foot Andes mountains, battling cold weather and rough terrain.
“Llamas aren’t the best pack animals because they aren’t that strong,” says Dr. Capriles.
The fact that llama caravans brought macaws and parrots across the Andes and across the desert to this oasis is astonishing.
They had to be transported over huge steppes, cold weather and difficult terrain to the Atacama. And they had to be kept alive. ‘
The parrots, the researchers believe, would not be able to cross the mountain range themselves.
The parrot fossils were found to be up to 900 years old and belong to six species: the scarlet macaw (shown, a living specimen), blue-yellow macaw, mealy amazon, yellow-crowned amazon, blue-crowned amazon and miter conure
While the importance of feathers was known to South American civilizations long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the role of bird mummification remains puzzling. Twenty-seven samples, partially or completely preserved, were studied by researchers
The conditions in which the animals were kept as they were lugged across the mountains and desert would have been far worse than the recognized animal rights standard of the world today, experts say.
“What we consider acceptable interactions with animals in our care was very different back then,” said Capriles.
Some of these birds did not live happily. They were kept to produce feathers and their feathers were plucked out as soon as they grew in them. ‘
There is also evidence that the birds’ claws and beaks have been trimmed, indicating that they likely kept alive in these conditions for a long time.
Most of the bird remains the researchers found date back to between AD 1100 and 1450, between the end of the Tiwanaku Empire and the rise of the Inca Empire.
According to Capriles, it was a time of war, but also a great time for trade, with llama caravans moving regularly.
Most of the mummies were found at Pica 8, an archaeological site near an oasis community that still exists as a trade hub.
The research is published in the journal PNAS
Archaeologists discover 3,200-year-old shrine to blade-wielding SPIDER GOD associated with rain and fertility in Peru
A gigantic 3,200-year-old mural depicting a spider god has been discovered in Peru.
The scene reveals an arachnid holding several knives and it is thought that locals prayed to the mysterious god believing the deity had control over fertility and rain.
Most of the relic was destroyed by farmers who tried to remove the mural in an attempt to expand their arable land.
The discovery was made in the valleys of the province of Viru in the Peruvian department of Lambayeque.
Locals discovered the ancient site while using large machinery such as excavators to expand their avocado and sugar cane plantations.
Images from the mural reveal scars from the demolition attempt etched into the old artwork.
More than half of the original temple was demolished in November 2020, but a 15 x 6 meter patch survived.