Drawing of a huge cat discovered in Peru's Nazca hills

Natalia Penza
Peruvian archaeologists carrying out maintenance work in the Nazca Lines geoglyphs site discovered the figure of a feline - Jhony Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture - Nasca-Palpa via AP
Peruvian archaeologists carrying out maintenance work in the Nazca Lines geoglyphs site discovered the figure of a feline - Jhony Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture - Nasca-Palpa via AP

A design depicting a huge cat has been discovered in Peru's Nazca Desert.

The new Nazca Lines etching, known as a geoglyph and showing a 120-foot long feline, lay undiscovered for nearly 2,000 years on a hill beside the Pan-American Highway stretching from Alaska to Argentina.

Archeologist Jhonny Isla, in charge of the management system for the Nazca-Palpa Archeological Park, said it had 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 mysterious Nazca Lines.

He told local press: "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.

The cat is thought to date back to 200BC - Jhony Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture - Nasca-Palpa via AP
The cat is thought to date back to 200BC - Jhony Islas/Peru's Ministry of Culture - Nasca-Palpa via AP

"During that process, we realised there were lines that were definitely not natural."

He added: "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.

"The lines of the geoglyph are around 12 to 15 inches wide in some parts. The figure is 121 feet long."

Officials 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 AI 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 archeologists 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 milles 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.