Saturday, October 10, 2015


Little Horny Man petroglyph,
Lapa do Santo, Brazil. from

An online article by Charles Q. Choi, a contributor to LiveScience, explains the discovery of what might be the oldest petroglyph in South America, in a cave named Lapa do Santo in central-eastern Brazil.

The region is home to Luzia, the oldest human skeleton found to date in South America. Discovered at Lapa Vermelha, Brazil, in 1975, by archaeologist Annette Laming-Emperaire, the skeleton has been dated to ca. 11,500 BP. Luzia's remains  were not articulated. Her skull was separate from the rest of the skeleton and was buried under forty feet of mineral deposits and debris, but was in surprisingly good condition. Although flint tools were found nearby, hers were the only human remains found. In 2013 new dating of the bones provided an age of 10,300 ± BP (11,243 - 11,070 BP). (Wikipedia)

Human remains of that age in the same region presents the possibility that the petroglyph could conceivably also be that old.

Sketch of Little Horny Man
petroglyph, Lapa do Santo, Brazil. from

"Lapa do Santo is one of the largest rock shelters excavated yet in the region, a limestone cave covering an area of about 14,000 square feet (1,300 square meters). Here, researchers have found buried human remains, tools made of stone and bone, ash from hearths, and leftovers from meals of fruit and small game. In 2009, a team headed by Walter Alves Neves digging about 13 feet (4 meters) below the surface, the scientists found a rock carving or petroglyph of a man packed into the side of the cave. 'The figure, which appears to be squatting with his arms outstretched, is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall from head to feet and about 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide'. The engraving is also depicted with a relatively large oversized phallus about 2 inches (5 cm) long, or about as long as the man's left arm. 'We named the figure 'the little horny man,' Neves said." (Choi 2015)

" 'The figure is probably linked to some kind of fertility ritual,' Neves told LiveScience. 'There is another site in the same region where you find paintings with  men with oversized phalluses and also pregnant women, and even a parturition (childbirth) scene.' Carbon dating and other tests of the sediment covering the petroglyph suggest the engraving dates between 9,000 and 12,000 years old. This makes it the oldest reliably dated instance of such rock art found yet in the Americas." (Choi 2015)

"When this carving is compared with other examples of early rock art found in South America, it would seem that abstract forms of thinking may have been very diverse back then, which suggests that humans settled the New World relatively early, giving their art time to diversify. For instance, at one site in Argentina named Coeval de lass Manos, paintings of hands predominate, while at another site there, Cueva Epullan Grande, engravings have geometric motifs. ' It shows that about 11,000 years ago, there was already a very diverse manifestation of rock art in South America, so probably man arrived in the Americas much earlier than normally is accepted,' Neves said." (Choi 2015)

And the old "Clovis first" dictum continues to crumble.

NOTE: The scientists detailed their findings February 22, 2015, in the online journal PloSONE.


Choi, Charles Q.,
2015    Little Horny Man: Rock Carving of Giant Phallus Discovered,, February 22, 2015.


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