Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Serra de Capivara

by Leighton Gage

This creature is a capybara, the largest rodent in the world.
The females, larger than the males, can measure up to 130 centimeters (4.3 ft)  in length and weigh as much as  65 kg (140 lb).

Capybaras are abundant throughout Brazil and have been for many thousands of years.

They’re reputed ('ve never eaten one) to be quite tasty, with a meat not unlike pork.

But this post isn’t really about capybaras,
It’s about the Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara  (Capybara Mountain Range National Park).

The park named after the mountains, named after the capybaras that once lived there, is located in the  northeastern State of Piaui.

And it’s there, where that little green dot is located, that you will find the vestiges of the largest concentration of prehistoric small farms in all of the Americas (North, Central and South).

And a remarkable collection of rock paintings, some of which were created more than 14,000 years ago.

There are five main cultural themes.


Sexual Practices.


Rituals performed around a tree.

and animals.

There is also quite a bit of entirely incomprehensible iconography, like human bodies heaped on a pyramid.

The paintings of the Serra da Capivara are neither as old, nor as beautiful as those of Lascaux:

or Altamira:

But their great age makes them pretty impressive, all the same.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Inteesting cave paintings, Leighton, but I'm wondering about the capybaras. Where are they found and how are they trapped?

Leighton Gage said...

Hi Jean,
Capybaras are social creatures, so where you find one, you're likely to find twenty.
And they're all over Brazil, from north to south and from east to west.
They hang out in large groups, generally near water, so they're often hunted from a boat.
And the operative word is "hunted". They're generally shot (the indigenous peoples used to do it with blowguns and arrows) rather than trapped.