(UPI) -- Researchers following the the white-lipped peccary were surprised to find themselves amid cave paintings made by hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago.
Found in the forests of Brazil's Pantanal and Cerrado ecosystems, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and local partners said these paintings helped them understand rock art found in the region. The paintings were made between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago.
"These discoveries of cave drawings emphasize the importance of protecting the Cerrado and Pantanal ecosystems, both for their cultural and natural heritage," said Dr. Julie Kunen, Director of the WCS Latin America and the Caribbean Program.
The discovery was made when Dr. Alexine Keuroghlian, a researcher with the WCS Brazil Program, was surveying the white-lipped peccary, a pig-like animal.
While following signals from the radio-collared peccaries, the team encountered a series of prominent sandstone formations with drawings and geometric figures on them.
The drawings depicted a collection of animals including armadillos, deer, birds and reptiles. The paintings also depicted human-like figures and geometric shapes. Interestingly, the animal that led researchers there, the white-lipped peccary is missing from the paintings.
"Since we often work in remote locations, we sometimes make surprising discoveries, in this case, one that appears to be important for our understanding of human cultural history in the region," said Keuroghlian.
"We hope to partner with local landowners to protect these cave sites, as well as the forests that surround them, so that the cultural heritage and wildlife depicted in the drawings are preserved for future generations," Kunen added.