Why mummified tropical parrots are buried in one of the world’s driest deserts : Research Highlights

Archaeology

Scarlet macaws and different birds plucked from distant jungles lived out their lives as pets in oasis communities.

Deep in one of many world’s most arid deserts, individuals dwelling centuries in the past displayed their standing by conserving an unlikely pet: the scarlet macaw, a big and demanding parrot imported from tropical forests a whole lot of kilometres away.

José Capriles at Pennsylvania State College in College Park and his colleagues examined parrot mummies, physique elements and feathers unearthed at six archaeological websites within the Atacama Desert in Chile. The workforce’s evaluation confirmed that the specimens got here from a minimum of six parrot species, together with the scarlet macaw (Ara macao). 4 of the species make their properties in humid jungles — a habitat not discovered for a number of hundred kilometres from the Atacama websites.

Radiocarbon evaluation of the parrots’ tissues confirmed that they dated to advert 1100–1450. Some bore indicators of repeated plucking, maybe by people intent on gathering the good feathers for ceremonial functions and ritual clothes. However the birds’ captors had, in some instances, additionally trimmed the parrots’ overgrown claws and beaks, and had nursed their pets because the birds recovered from damaged bones.

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