It’s a paws-itively huge discovery.
A 120-foot-long figure of a cat carved into the Nazca desert in Peru more than 2,000 years ago has been unearthed – joining a long collection of mysterious geoglyphs etched at the UNESCO World Heritage site, the BBC reported.
The formidable feline has gone unnoticed until plans were recently drawn up for a new path leading to an observation platform for tourists.
“The figure was scarcely visible and was about to disappear, because it’s situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” Peru’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.
Nazca chief archeologist Johny Isla told the Efe news agency that the cat pre-dates the Nazca culture, which created most of the figures from 200 to 700 AD. The cat was actually from the late Paracas era, which was from 500 BC to 200 AD, he added.
“We know that from comparing iconographies,” he said. “Paracas textiles, for example, show birds, cats and people that are easily comparable to these geoglyphs.”
The cat joins a wide variety of other zoomorphic etchings found across the area in the last century, including depictions of a hummingbird, a monkey and a pelican, according to CNN.
Several geometric shapes and patterns — including spirals and triangles — also were carved into the desert landscape.
“They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world and are unmatched in its extent, magnitude, quantity, size, diversity and ancient tradition to any similar work in the world,” according to UNSECO’s website.
“The concentration and juxtaposition of the lines, as well as their cultural continuity, demonstrate that this was an important and long-lasting activity, lasting approximately one thousand years.”
Researchers from Japan’s Yamagata University last year discovered more than 140 geoglyphs in the area with the help of 3D imaging, CNN reported.