Researchers uncover 143 previously hidden and unknown figures drawn in the ...

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The Nazca lines of Peru have fascinated archaeologists for centuries and now scientists say they have discovered 143 new drawings previously hidden in the soil.

Featuring hundreds of pictures of animals, plants and patterns, the miles of figurative drawings are only visible from nearby clifftops and the air.  

Researchers from Yamagata University in Japan spent years searching through high-resolution images of the lines taken from space and studying them on site in Peru. 

This led to the discovery of previously unknown figures depicting a range of living creatures including birds, monkeys, fish, reptiles and humanoid characters.

Researchers worked with IBM's Artificial Intelligence team to discover a humanoid character within the soil (pictured)

Researchers worked with IBM's Artificial Intelligence team to discover a humanoid character within the soil (pictured)

Known as geoglyphs, they were created about 2,000 years ago, at the same time as the previously discovered lines and are between 16ft and 320ft across.

The research team from Japan, led by cultural anthropologist Masato Sakai, hoped to be able to uncover more detail of barely visible lines, as well as discover previously unseen figures.

They also set out to discover why the lines were created and believe some may have been used in ritual ceremonies. 

Through painstaking image searches and on site surveys they found what they were looking for - over 140 new drawings. 

Researchers had to study thousands of images to try and find patterns hidden in the sand
Researchers had to study thousands of images to try and find patterns hidden in the sand. They then highlighted the patterns to make the creatures clearer

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Known as geoglyphs, they were created about 2,000 years ago, at the same time as the previously discovered lines and are between 16ft and 320ft across. They depict a range of characters including snakes

Geoglyphs span large land tracts located between the towns of Palpa and Nazca in Peru

Geoglyphs span large land tracts located between the towns of Palpa and Nazca in Peru

The team believe that the Nazca people made the lines by removing the rocky black topsoil and revealing light-coloured sand underneath. 

Dr Sakai and his team found two different types of geoglyphs as part of their study of the soil - one much older than the other.

The first type are at least 160ft across and are from later in the Nazca civilisation - between 100AD and 300AD. 

The second type are smaller, dating back to between 100BC and 100AD.

The team believe the older type of geoglyphs were discovered on slopes and paths which suggest they were designed as landmarks to help guide people. 

The newer type were 'littered with pottery shards' and could have been used as sites of ritual ceremonies involving breaking things, says Dr Sakai.

Dozens of different types of creates were stopped in the soil

Researchers highlighted the previously hidden fgures

Dr Sakai and his team found two different types of geoglyphs as part of their study of the soil dating from about 100BC to 300AD and included creatures and patterns (pictured)

Some of the newly

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