Stunning discovery of 9,000-year-old rock art shows people knew about dinosaurs

In 1987, some gem seekers unearthed lapidaria of fascinating turquoise tourmaline crystals in the hilly mines of Paraiba, an agricultural state at the eastern tip of Brazil. And now the city has taken researchers further back in time by revealing an intriguing collection of dinosaur footprints, alongside petroglyphs from more than 9,000 years ago. The collection was discovered at Serrote do Letreiro in the state’s Sousa Basin, and associated research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Transporting the time machine to the Jurassic era, the research has revealed that prehistoric hunter-gatherers in Brazil created numerous enigmatic rock art designs called petroglyphs alongside the fossilized footprints of dinosaurs. The findings promise to provide some wonderful insights into the combination of palaeontology and archeology offered by the unveiling of this stunning assemblage at the Serrote outcrops.

Image source: Scientific Reports
Image source: Scientific Reports

According to the article, researchers first observed the petroglyphs in 1975. But only now have they spotted them near the giant footprints of dinosaurs. They made this discovery with the help of several brilliant drones. The tracks, they said, belong to dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period, which ended 66 million years ago.

The researchers who discovered these markings believe that ancient people purposefully placed the petroglyphs next to the dinosaur prints, as many of the petroglyphs are only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) from the fossilized markings and some of the marks appear to be illustrations of the footprints. , also called ichnites.

Image source: Scientific Reports
Image source: Scientific Reports

This shows that the people who lived during this period were well aware of the dinosaurs, and were probably curious about them. “The people who created the petroglyphs were well aware of the footprints and probably chose the location for that very reason,” the study’s lead author, Leonardo Troiano, an archaeologist from Brazil’s National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage, told LiveScience.com. It was impossible to overlook their presence.”

Troiano said that these ancient people were very interested in the footprints and considered them somehow meaningful. This also runs parallel to the location of Serrote. Serrote do Letreiro, which translates to ‘Signpost Hill’ in Portuguese, is close to the Valley of the Dinosaurs, a protected natural area known for its hundreds of fossilized dinosaur footprints.

Image source: Scientific Reports
Image source: Scientific Reports

Troiano and his fellow researchers conducted the study with a group of high school students who surveyed the site in 2023. In addition to learning about the convergence of paleontology and archaeology, the students helped photograph the specimens. The team noted that the tracks belong to several types of dinosaurs, such as carnivorous theropods, long-necked sauropods and two-legged ornithopods, including iguanodontian dinosaurs.

The exposed petroglyphs were mainly carvings of circles filled with lines and other geometric lines. These works of art are attributed to people who lived in the region between 9,400 and 2,620 years ago. “They were small semi-nomadic groups of hunters and gatherers who lived in society and used objects made of stones,” Troiano said. These ancient people made these petroglyphs using two techniques; perforation and scraping, the team said.

“Perforation involves using a type of stone hammer to create depressions on the surface, similar to stippling, while scraping involves rubbing a stone against the surface until it forms the desired engraving,” Troiano explains.

The petroglyphs undoubtedly provide important evidence for the historical population, but they also indicate the rituals and practices in which these people participated during this period. “I think the creation of rock art was embedded in some kind of ritual context: people collect and create something, perhaps using psychotropic substances,” Troiano said, adding that these people were interested in “what the footprints represent.”

Jan Simek, a leading professor of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, confirmed Troiano’s hypothesis, telling CNN: “The paper provides an interesting new example of how ancient people observed fossils in the landscape and incorporated them into their religious experiences and interpretations.” .”

He said the case is another archaeological example of the “human tendency to link the spiritual world created in the imagination with inexplicable things in the world around us.” This could correlate with the Indian village along the bank of the Narmada River, where people commonly worship dinosaur fossils they call ‘kankar’.