Individuals dwelling within the Atacama desert as soon as traded unique parrots

Mummified scarlet macaw present in Pica, Chile

Calogero Santoro, Universidad de Tarapacá, and José Capriles, Penn State

An oasis in Chile’s Atacama desert might have as soon as served as a hub for the commerce of reside parrots from throughout the Andes.

An evaluation of the stays of entire birds and feathers discovered at an archaeological website in Pica, Chile, and different websites within the Atacama desert has revealed that llama caravanners transported reside birds greater than 500 kilometres in some instances. This occurred between AD 1100 and 1450, after the autumn of the Tiwanaku, an Andean civilisation that held energy for hundreds of years, and earlier than the rise of the Inca.


“That required a deep information of the ecology of the birds of their house territories, their house ranges and with the ability to maintain them on these lengthy journeys,” says Jose Capriles at Pennsylvania State College.

Capriles and his group had identified that websites within the Atacama contained items transported from different areas. Caprile’s mom, Eliana Flores Bedregal, an ornithologist with the Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past in La Paz, Boliva, who was additionally a part of the group, shortly recognized the species of a number of Amazon parrots in stays from Atacama websites now present in a number of museums. She recognized species such because the southern mealy Amazon and scarlet macaws in addition to their native ranges.

The researchers then analysed the feathers, and in some instances the stays of entire birds, discovered on the websites, together with some buried with caravanners at a cemetery at an oasis in Pica. A research of carbon and nitrogen isotopes within the stays revealed that the birds lived for a while within the Atacama desert. The isotopes revealed that they’d been consumed maize that was prone to have been cultivated with the guano of seabirds transported from the coast – meals that wouldn’t have existed of their native ranges.

They had been most likely saved not solely as pets that represented an unique standing image, however as potential cash makers, says Capriles, “form of just like the hen that produces golden eggs”.

Dwell birds produce feathers that might have been offered – archaeologists know these had been utilized in clothes, headdresses and hats. A few of the well-preserved birds present proof of frequent plucking.

Capriles says the research offers additional proof that caravan routes had been intact throughout this era of small regional powers, in between bigger powers just like the Inca and Tiwanaku.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2020020118

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