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Ancient Mesoamericans captured and traded wild animals

Ancient Mesoamerican cultures used wild animals such as puma and jaguar for many purposes, including in symbolic displays of status and power, as subjects of ritual sacrifice, and as resources for processing into venison or craft products.

New evidence from the Maya city of Copan, in Honduras, reveals that ancient Mesoamericans routinely captured and traded wild animals for symbolic and ritual purposes, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by researchers from George Mason University, Virginia, USA. Evidence of wild animal use in ancient Mesoamerica dates back to the Teotihuacan culture in what is now central Mexico (A.D. 1-550).

Archaeological findings of indigenous Mesoamerican animal management strategies have traditionally been under-emphasized, due to the paucity of large domesticated game in the New World in comparison to the devastating impact of European livestock introduced in the 1500s.


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