Researchers have discovered an extremely old anthropomorphic figure engraved in rock in Brazil, according to a report published Feb. 22 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The petroglyph, which dates to between 9,000 and 12,000 years old, is the oldest reliably dated instance of such rock art yet found in the Americas.
Art from this time period in the New World is quite rare, so little is known about the diversity of symbolic thinking of the early American settlers.
The authors of this study, led by Walter Neves of the University of Sao Paulo, write that their findings suggest symbolic thought in South America was very diverse at that time, supporting the hypothesis that humans settled the New World relatively early."
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Neves WA, Araujo AGM, Bernardo DV, Kipnis R, Feathers JK (2012) Rock Art at the Pleistocene/Holocene Boundary in Eastern South America. PLoS ONE 7(2): e32228. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032228