Clan of the Cave Peccaries

The below is an excerpt from a press release by Overbrook-supported Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which describes how cave paintings dating over 4,000 years ago were discovered while researching the life and habitat of the white-lipped peccary in Brazil. The discovery underscores the inextricable relationship between natural ecosystems and cultural heritage. And not to mention, is just really cool.

Assortment of Fauna

You can read the full release here.

"While tracking white-lipped peccaries and gathering environmental data in forests that link Brazil’s Pantanal and Cerrado biomes, a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and a local partner NGO, Instituto Quinta do Sol, discovered ancient cave drawings made by hunter-gatherer societies thousands of years ago

The discovery was first made on Brazil’s Cerrado plateau in 2009, when Keuroghlian and her team were conducting surveys of white-lipped peccaries, herd-forming pig-like animals that travel long distances and are environmental indicators of healthy forests. While following signals from radio-collared white-lipped peccaries and the foraging trails of peccary herds, the team encountered a series of prominent sandstone formations with caves containing drawings of animals and geometric figures.

 Keuroghlian contacted Aguiar, a regional specialist in cave drawings who determined that the drawings were made between 4,000–10,000 years ago by hunter-gatherer societies that either occupied the caves, or used them specifically for their artistic activities. The style of some drawings, Aguiar noted, was consistent with what archeologists call the Planalto (central Brazilian plateau) tradition, while others, surprisingly, were more similar to Nordeste (northeastern Brazil) or Agreste (forest to arid-land transition in NE Brazil) style drawings. The drawings depict an assemblage of animals including armadillos, deer, large cats, birds, and reptiles, as well as human-like figures and geometric symbols. Oddly, the subject of the WCS surveys in the area—peccaries—are absent from the illustrations. Aguiar hopes to conduct cave floor excavations and geological dating at the sites in order to fully interpret the drawings."