10,000-Year-Old Cave Paintings in Brazil Discovered by Accident

ZME Science  (check this site out: http://www.zmescience.com/. I have bookmarked it for later. I am actually quite curious to see what it has to offer and I only glanced at it, so that makes me wonder what qualities did it posses to draw my interest.)


Going back to the site, I don’t find it as exciting as it seems I did earlier, but I would like to find an article and analyze it.

10,000-Year-Old Cave Paintings in Brazil Discovered by Accident

Published on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 by Mihai Andrei


This is the article I decided to analyze. By quickly scanning this article, it appears this would not be an editorial article, but in the first sentence I find an opinion word. I decided to go to the bottom and see if there is any info about the author and I found this:

Written by Mihai Andrei

Andrei is no scientist, but from an early age, he has been fascinated by science; that’s why he went to college, and signed up for Geophysics. Feeling that there’s a huge gap between science and average people, he rallied TP, started ZME Science, and gave it a green twist too. “

It’s interesting to find out a bit about the author before you read their article. It turns out this guy looks like he could be a friend of mine. I automatically assumed he was older, sitting at a boring, brown desk with a disconnect to the real person on the street. I have noticed that I often have that perception when I begin to read any article. Until these blogs were started at the beginning of the semester, I never realized I already had a preconceived idea about the author which automatically swayed my thinking about the article before I even read the article. That is quite a disappointing revelation, but I understand what you mean when you discuss how our feelings can be bias before we even realize it.

So now that I know this guy is younger, started this web site, and has written over 2,000 articles, once again I am swayed to think that I like him more now. Human behavior is an odd conception.

So, I will try to put all this information off to the side and read the article for what it is…easier said than done, but I’ll give it a shot.

In quite an interesting discovery, Wildlife Conservation Society biologists have discovered cave paintings made by hunter-gatherers between 10,000 to 4,000 years ago while studying wild animals in the Taboco region.

-The very first thing I notice is the word “interesting”. While I have to agree this story is interesting to me and most likely interesting to a lot of other readers, I am sure that not everybody would agree that this story is “interesting”.

Is it alright for him to use this word? If I were writing this article and trying to stay away from words that declare my feelings, I could possibly re-write the first line and say something like:

–Biologist from Wildlife Conservation Society have accidently discovered cave paintings dated back between 10,000 to 4,000 years ago….hmm…this is harder than I thought. The first sentence needs to be one sentence and the author made the first sentence pretty darn good. Even saying something like –It was quite a discovery…–that may work.

I guess what I am wondering, is when do you include your feelings in a story? This author thinks it’s “interesting”.

What if you were writing this article and you think it’s “amazing”, would it be alright for you to choose that word?

Now I am wondering if this same article can be found in the NYT or WSJ or WP. I will google that next.

To add more mystery to the situation, the discovery was made in 2009, but it has been kept a secret until now – probably because they wanted to make sure there was proper security to protect the cave paintings before releasing the news publicly.

–Of course, the first thing I question is the word “probably”. That word means nothing to me when I’m reading an article and since it was included in this article, I am thinking this is an editorial piece. With that in mind, I will continue to analyze  this article.

Back then, Dr Alexine Keuroghlian of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Brazil Program and her colleagues were conducting surveys of white-lipped peccaries, medium-sized mammals of the family Tayassuidae, or New World pigs. Peccaries are very vulnerable to human activities, especially deforesting and hunting, and their numbers are dwindling all across South America.



–While I understand this is what the researchers were originally working on when they made the discoveries, does this article need that much explanation about the peccaries? Maybe. And maybe it needs to so it can explain the movement of how these drawings were discovered.

While following radio signals from tracking devices on the peccaries, the team encountered some interesting sandstone formations, including caves containing drawings of animals and geometric figures.

–The one thing I really like about this article is all the names he has to back up his article.

Dr Rodrigo Luis Simas de Aguiar, an archaeologist with the Federal University of Grande Dourados, determined that the drawings were made by hunter gatherers in the area 4.000-10.000 years ago who either occupied the caves, or simply used them for artistic or religious pursuits. The findings have been described in a paper, but it’s in Portuguese, and no Englishtranslation is available at the moment.



The paintings depict a very large assemblage of animals, including armadillos, deer, large cats, birds , and reptiles, as well as human-like figures and geometric symbols. The next step is to conduct cave floor excavations and date the drawings geologically.

–Now this part I find exciting and I am thrilled he has included what the next step will be concerning these drawings.

And now he has included a direct quote that he got from a statement that anyone could use. He didn’t have to include it, but it adds legitimacy to his article.

“These discoveries of cave drawings emphasize the importance of protecting the Cerrado and Pantanal ecosystems, both for their cultural and natural heritage,” Julie Kunen, director of WCS’s Latin America and the Caribbean program, said in a statement. “We hope to partner with local landowners to protect these cave sites, as well as the forests that surround them, so that the cultural heritage and wildlife depicted in the drawings are preserved for future generations.”

Archaeologists still haven’t figured out what exactly what civilization (if any) made the drawings, and they’ve reported a strange mix of styles – the entire assemblage is way more complex than expected, showcasing influences from various areas of Brazil, including something rather similar to the ancient art from the central Brazilian plateau and the more recent, artistic north-eastern styles. Some are created in the so-called Planalto tradition while others, surprisingly, are more similar to the Nordeste or Agreste style drawings.

–I like that he included the origins of where the illustrators may have come from.

All in all, I think this is a pretty good article. I am still a bit confused it this would be considered an editorial piece. I am thinking that it would not be, that he included those few words to add a human touch to the article. I am going to say by using the word “probably” that this would be an opinion piece. Would you agree?

I will now see if the NYT covered this story and compare the two.

These are the prompt words I put into the NYT search engine-Cave Paintings in Brazil-and nothing came up.

I guess the editor choose not to run this story, maybe because it was too sciencey. 


Credit: Alexine Keuroghlian/WCS

Written by Mihai Andrei

Andrei is no scientist, but from an early age, he has been fascinated by science; that’s why he went to college, and signed up for Geophysics. Feeling that there’s a huge gap between science and average people, he rallied TP, started ZME Science, and gave it a green twist too. 

Andrei has published 2515 posts on ZME Science .





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