The words of Dr. Cabrera


A visit with Dr. Cabrera


(this material is an excerpt from the book "The Message of the Stones", by Dr. Javier Cabrera)




The coexistence of man and prehistoric animals strongly suggested by the Engraved Stones of Ica inspired me to a closer study of paleontology, to see if I could find some overlooked clues that might confirm or deny such a coexistence. In the case of Peru, I remembered that on the coast of the departments of Ica and Arequipa there are deposits of petrified animals and vegetable matter dating back millions of years. These deposits, found in three zones of the department of Ica and one in the northern part of Arequipa, could all be part of one large deposit that begins in Sacaco (Arequipa) and continues running north, cropping out only in few zones of the neighboring department of Ica in the provences of Nasca, Palpa, Ica, Pisco, and Chincha. Because of agents of erosion (water, wind, and temperature) constantly at work on the surface of the earth, the deposit is visible in only these four zones out of the immense area over which it might, theoretically, extend. It is possible, therefore, that the subsoil of this vast region might contain petrified remains not only of ancient flora and fauna, but of the oldest men to inhabit the earth. In the zones in which the deposit is visible, one can see layer upon layer of diatoms (one-celled organism), remains of millions of snails and sea animals (including giant sharks, dolphins, and whales), mastodons, etc. In Marcona, a mining center near the plains of Nasca (Ica), mining excavations have uncovered petrified tree trunks, snails, and conches. The prehistoric vegetable and animal species of these zones (and the zones themselves) have not been exhaustively studied, perhaps because Peruvian and foreign experts alike persist in the belief that the Peruvian coast was relatively recently formed and so the petrified animals and plants found there are not very old. This prejudice lingers despite the fact that it has been scientifically proven that the area around Nasca comprises one of the five oldest tectonic plates identified to date in five parts of the globe. The notion that the Peruvian coast is of recent vintage would seem to be confirmed by the fact that the fossils found there are close to the surface. However, this theory falters when we remember that these zones are noted for their powerful and persistent winds, which are quite capable over time of exposing fossils that were originally buried deep in the earth.


In July of 1967 I received permission from the Casa de Cultura de Peru to send to the United States a pertrified skull of what appeared to be a prehistoric dolphin, with a diameter at its largest point of about eighty centimeters, which was found in the topsoil of one of these zones (Sacaco, in the northern part of the department of Arequipa). My purpose was to obtain a laboratory analysis to determine the identity and age of the specimen and thus the age of the geological strata in which it was discovered. This analysis was performed by Ledoux and Company, a laboratory specializing in this sort of project. I received the analysis on October 10. The laboratory had used a small fragment of the temporal bone to determine that this was the well-preserved cranium of a dolphin that lived 50 million years ago. The report added that such specimens are found with some frequency in the region between Nasca and Callao (700 kilometers north of Sacaco). Paleontologists tell us that present-day dolphins and whales descended from a similar species called zeuglondonts, which became extinct 58 million years ago in other words, shortly after the beginning of the Cenozoic era (which began 63 million years ago). It is very possible that these animals, given their extinction 58 million years ago, may have lived during the last period of the preceding Mesozoic era, the Cretaceous period, which began 135 million years ago (13).


I put this information together with the research of the Argentine paleontologist Florentino Ameghino, who theorizes that man originated in the Americas, specifically in the Argentine pampas. According to his theory, the first animal who stood erect lived on the pampas, and evolved into the homo sapien. Here were three intermediate stages, each more advanced than the previous, and the last of which is man's direct ancestor. As evidence of three of these four ancestors he gives: a femur and a cervical vertebrae found in Monte Hermosa, Argentina, from the first ancestor; front the third, a skull found during excavations of the port of Buenos Aires; and from the fourth, the immediate ancestor, a series of craniums and bones from Necochea, Miramar, and other parts of Argentina. He also had tools and utensils found in a geological layer which he identified as belonging to the Miocene period (which began 25 million years ago and lasted 12 million), in the Cenozoic era. These included a silex knife, a stone anvil, files and rasps, an amygdaloid instrument made of quartz and carved on both sides, same silex and quartz arrowheads, a highly-polished, pear-shaped greenstone marble, mortars and pestles, beveled bones that could have been used as swords or spears, various round marbles, one of them grooved, the femur of a toxodon (a fat, leaf-eating mammal measuring three meters in length that lived in the Pliocene period 13 million years ago) in whose lower part was embedded a quartz arrowhead. All of this was found near a small town five kilometers northwest of Miramar (450 kilometers south of Buenos Aires) on the Atlantic coast. It was later proven that the cervical vertebrae and the skulls found by Ameghino actually belonged to man and not to his ancestors - in other words - they did not come from evolving anthropoids. As far as the tools and utensils are concerned, it cannot be denied that they belonged to man, but their age has been disputed; indeed it appears that since they are much like the tools found in the top-soil of the pampas and Patagonia, they were probably made by relatively modern but culturally retarded men. Furthermore, if man had existed in America over 20 million years ago who knew not only how to carve but even to polish stone (a discovery made by Old World man much later) it is inexplicable that America man had not evolved culturally farther than the European at the time of the Conquest.


Almost a century after Ameghino's discoveries, I can affirm that not only were errors of focus committed by Ameghino, but also by those who have raised objections to his work. Unstinting and unimaginative application of the classic theory of evolution was the cause of these errors. The anthropoid has been considered a species intimately related to man, because the theory of evolution holds, that an unknown 'Missing link" is the anthropoid from whom evolved both the only anthropoids which now live (gibbons, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees) and man. Since no form of living anthropoid not fossilized remains of an anthropoid exist in America, it was deemed impossible that man could have originated in the Western Hemisphere. This notion is apparently confirmed by the fact that American cultures had not achieved the scientific and technological development of Europeans at the time of the conquest. Faithful to the rules of this doctrine, Ameghino erred in trying to establish the presence of man in the Americas 20 million years ago (indisputable on the grounds of the tools and utensils found), by instead making reference to human cranial bones which he mistakenly believed belonged to evolved anthropoids - in other words - by mistakenly trying to establish the missing link.


Based on the geological layers where the skulls of these three supposed anthropoids had been found, Ameghino put their antiquity at about the same age as the tools and utensils. His critics, who correctly proved that the bones were not those of anthropoids but of humans, and who admitted that the tools were undoubtedly made by humans, arbitrarily and improperly applied the rule of association: They did not believe that the tools could have been found in the geological strata indicated by Ameghino as pertaining to the Miocene period, but instead must have come from more recent strata. Two prejudices caused them to apply this rule unscientifically: That the origin of man could not have been in the Americas because American culture was less advanced than European culture at the time of the Conquest, and that tools and utensils similar to chose offered by Ameghino had been found on the surface and in the recent geological layers of the pampas and Patagonia. Both prejudices against the possibility that these tools belonged to a people over 20 million years old stem from the belief that the evolutionary step from anthropoid to human could not have been made in America because no form of living or dead anthropoid had even been found in this hemisphere.


The existence of man over 20 million years ago, as asserted by Ameghino, was also rejected because of the lack of paleotological sophistication in those days. They did not have means of dating fossils by radioactive methods, and furthermore they did not know that there were anthropoids in America. This latter discovery was made many years later, when a scientific expedition to the Amazon jungles, while exploring an area near the Tarra River in Venezuela, was attacked by two large anthropoids. One of them was shot and the animal turned out to be an unknown species. The body was carefully photographed. It was a female over one and a half meters tall, without a tail. This anthropoid resembled human beings like no other (Fig. 19). The discovery reinforces the thesis that the missing link is to be found in America, gives new weight to Ameghino's argument that man existed 20 million years ago, and permits us to place the appearance of man as an evolved being much earlier than the traditional evolutionary schema has it.


FIGURE 19: Anthropoid, the most similar to the man. It has been found in the Venezuelan Jungle.
Picture taken by Dr. Francisco de Leys and published in "Maravillas de la vida animal", volume IV, Edit. Labor, Buenos Aires, 1952.


The extraordinary likeness of this anthropoid to man - not only in its head and facial features out in its body as well - suggest the possibility that it is in fact a hominid, the only hominid that has survived, since other species of hominids are known to us only through fossils.

In 1972 in southwest Africa, near Lake Rudolph in Kenya, the anthropologist Richard Leakey (14) found a fossilized skull 2.8 million years old (end of Pliocene period, Cenozoic era), a skull closer to that of modern man than any that had been found to date. The age of the skull is beyond doubt, since sophisticated dating methods were employed to determine. The discovery has proven that the evolution of man began much earlier than anthropologists had previously thought. And it has served as the basis for Leakey to assert that all the human fossils thought by anthropologists to be immediate ancestors of man are not such at all, because it is clear that man has existed much longer, beyond even the date at which paleontologists had argued that present day anthropoids emerged (in the pleistocene period, 1 million years ago) (Fig. 20). If all this revisionism can flow from the discovery of a 2.8 million years old cranium, one can imagine the intellectual revolution that Florentine Ameghino would have caused had he had access to sophisticated dating methods to confirm the tools and utensils age of 20 million years, which he had determined by association with the geological strata where they were found.

FIGURE 20: The cranium found in 1972 by Richard Leakey, in Kenya, is 2.8 Billion years old (1), and is nonetheless as fully developed as that of modern man (3), and naturally much more developed than that of the zinjanthropus (2), the hominid from which, according to anthropological theory, evolved the immediate ancestors of man. Leakey's discovery unhinges this traditional theory.

At this point in my research I could not help but reflect on an event that preceded the Leakey discovery by two years; scientific confirmation of one part of the theory of continental movement and formation formulated at the beginning of the century by Alfred Wegener. This theory postulates that at one time the continents all formed one large land mass, and during an ice age the earth's crust fractured and finally fragmented to form the continents more or less as we know them. In 1970 Melvin Patterson and other oceanographers from UNESCO found that geological layers on the west coast of Africa matched up with similar layers on the east coast of South America. This strongly suggested that Africa and South America had at one time been one and the same continent. What all this means is that the areas where Ameghino and Leakey made their discoveries (the eastern coast of South American and the western coast of Africa, respectively) had once formed a single continent, a fact which goes far toward explaining the existence of ancient man in America. This should cause Argentine experts to reexamine, in light of these indisputable facts, the paleontological finds of the unjustly forgotten Florentine Ameghino, using the latest dating methods. I would not be surprised in the region where Ameghino worked were to yield evidence that would confirm the extraordinary antiquity of man's presence on earth.

In June of 1970 Richard Macneish, Ph.D. in Anthropology and head of the Department of Archeology at the Phillips Academy discovered, during a dig in the basin of the Montato River (a tributary of the Amazon) to the southeast of Lima in Ayacucho, utensils used by humans positioned next to fossilized skeletons of prehistoric bears, horses camels, deer and various feline species. These utensils, as well as the skeletons of extinct animals (smilodon), were found across five geological strata. Paleontologists tell us that the megaterio, or prehistoric bear, became extinct 1 million years ago, that the prehistoric horse and camel became extinct 13 million years ago, and that the deer and the feline became extinct 1 million years ago. Unquestionably Macneish found himself faced with evidence that ancient man had coexisted with prehistoric animals and that, at the very least, this coexistence must date from the epoch in which the animals became extinct, and probably earlier. Nevertheless, Macneish did not dare reveal the true implications of his discoveries, and insisted that the tools belonged to a people who lived but 20,000 years ago. His statements reflect a very strange application of the comparative method, but they cannot hide the transcendent significance of his find.

In April 1971 excavations in a place called El Boqueron, in the state of Tolima, Colombia, uncovered a fossilized skeleton of the dinosaur iguanodon, twenty meters long, next to a human skull. The fossilization process had turned the skull into gray calcareous stone with whitish striations; the eye sockets were almost obliterated; the nose was elongated; and the skull had a crest from the top of the forehead to the base of the cranium. The chin was slightly angled and the jawbone vertical, like a simian. The cranium measured 25 centimeters in length. The find was made by the Colombian anthropologist Homero Henao Marin, a professor at the Universidad de Quindio, Colombia. This find was of tremendous paleontological significance, for several reasons. For one, it is the first time a human fossil has been found anywhere in the world next to that of a dinosaur. Second, it is the first time that in Ameria a human fossil has been found next to this particular species of dinosaur which permits us to conclude, by association, that they lived at the same time. The iguanodon appeared at the beginning of the Jurassic period, 181 million years ago, and became extinct 63 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. Henao Marin also found skeletons of other animals: a huge serpent, an animal with the head of a dog and an open gullet, as well as some petrified fins. Six years before Henao Marin had found in the same area a megaterio fossil, an animal which appeared in the Oligocene period, 36 million years ago, and became extinct in the Pleistocene, 1 million years ago.

To follow the traditional path of paleontology is to be confused by evidence like this, which suggests chronological correspondence between the iguanodon and the megaterio. If we consider the fact that these animals were found in the same geological strata with the remains of a man that paleontologists tell us lived no more than 250,000 years ago, our confusion grows. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn in that paleontology persists in a chronological schema in dire need of revision, a schema of dating the appearance and extinction of animals as well as the appearance of man on earth which was, after all, devised in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, well before these recent discoveries and before modern dating methods were available. Beyond this, even though radioactive dating is more precise than previous methods, it must be used with caution since it is not foolproof. The discrepancies I have noted in this case also appear in the case of the megaterio and human utensils found by Macneish in Ayacucho.

In 1974 Dr. A. A. Zoubov, a Russian anthropologist and a member of the Academy of Sciences of his country, came to Ica at the invitation of the University in Ica to give a series of lectures on his specialty. In conversation with him he told me that in 1973 Hindu anthropologists had made a surprising paleontological find in India: human fossils in Mesozoic rocks. The discovery was reported to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. This discovery, which establishes beyond doubt the existence of man in the Mesozoic (in other words, between 230 and 63 million years ago), surprised me not only in its particularities, but also in the fact that the information was hidden from the world until further, similar discoveries could be made; it is as if science were trying to argue that one swallow does not a spring make.

Teeth and fossilized jawbones of eleven hominids, whose age has been determined by radioactive isotope dating to be 63.75 million years, are the oldest evidence found to date of man's ancestors. They were discovered by Mary Leakey, the 26 and 27 of December 1974, in a dry river bed called Laetolii, some 40 kilometers from Olduvai, in Tanzania. Mrs. Leakey has claimed that the fossils seem to belong to the genus homo, or appeared human, and not to the genus australopithecene (the hominid discovered by Raymond Dart). The Mary Leakey find is interesting because it reveals that man's ancestors existed 63.75 million years ago, during the transition from the Mesozoic to the Cenozoic era. The discovery, whose age was established by modern dating methods, shows that the unknown anthropoid who gave rise to branches, one of which led to modern anthropoids and the other to modern man, must have emerged many years before the date in the Miocene period (Cenozoic era) 25 million years ago, at which classic anthropology has always set the emergence of this creature.

Geologists tell us that our planet took form 5,000 million years ago, and life - the earliest microorganisms - began 3,500 million years ago. Paleontologists have found fossilized evidence of this life, and assigned to it (before the discovery of radioactive dating methods) an antiquity of 700 million years. The intervening 2,800 million years have yielded no concrete evidence of life on earth. But in 1969, a U.S. scientist named Albert E. J. Engel, a geologist with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California, found fossils of microorganisms in ancient rocks in the region of the Transvaal, South Africa. We are talking about cup and rod-shaped microorganisms, the largest of which measures 39 millionths of an inch. Modern dating methods determined that the rocks in which the fossils were found were 3,500 million years old, that is, they dated from the Archeozoic era.

All of these discoveries topple the traditional chronology of paleontology and destroy the idea, cherished by anthropologists and archeologists, of the recent origin of man.

Nevertheless, I believe that the amazing antiquity of life on earth and of man revealed by these finds are only a beginning that future discoveries will further confirm.



(13) I will make the result of my investigations about these deposits of fossilized specimens in my next book, "Humanity in the Mesozoic".

(14) The son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, the famous English anthropologists to whom anthropology is indebted for their crucial discoveries which have made contributions to the knowledge of human evolution. The Leakey couple, as well as Richard Leakey, has spent a great part of their lives in Africa searching for the remains of ancient man.