A design depicting a huge cat has been discovered in Peru’s Nazca Desert.
The new Nazca Lines etching shows a 120ft-long feline and lay undiscovered for nearly 2,000 years on a hill beside the Pan-American Highway that stretches all the from from Alaska to Argentina.
Archeologist Jhonny Isla, who is in charge of the management system for the Nazca-Palpa Archeological Park, said it has been found during work to improve an access to a visitor look-out point enabling people to view the giant figures that make up the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines.
He said: “We realised the access to the look-out point ran over a geoglyph and we decided to alter it because it’s not possible to promote access by damaging heritage.
“The additional motive was that access was complicated and we wanted to make it safer. During that process, we realised there were lines that were definitely not natural.
“It might seem surprising that new designs are still being found, but we know there are more out there.
“In the last few years, the use of drones, which enable us to take images of the sides of hills, makes that possible.”
Peru’s Culture Ministry said in a statement: “The design was hardly visible when it was first identified and was on the verge of disappearing because it was on a hill with a steep slope and was subject to the effects of natural erosion.
“Over the past week cleaning and conservation work has taken place which has led to the emergence of the figure of a feline with its body side-on and its head facing forwards.”
Officials have dated the design to around 200BC.
Last November, it emerged over 140 Nazca lines dating back around 2,100 years had been uncovered in the Peruvian desert.
The announcement was made by archaeologists at Japan’s Yamagata University following a 15-year research effort using satellite imagery, drone footage and artificial intelligence scanning systems.
They included a bird, humanoids, a two-headed snake and even a “killer whale”.
The Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage site, were first discovered by archaeologists academically in 1927. Many are so big they can generally only be identified properly from the air.
It is believed they were created between 500BC and 500AD. They typically measure anywhere from 0.2 miles to 0.7 miles across.
Many depict humans, animals and plants.
Experts believe the lines, thought to have been made by the removal of rocky black topsoil to reveal light-coloured sand underneath, were used in ritual ceremonies and may have served as messages to the gods.