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Friday, 4 May 2012

Precolumbian Stamp Sculpture of Reptilian 'Chupacabras'

I had seen several variations on the theme before but this was the best precolumbian sculpture of the sort of big-iguana that has more recently been described in "Cupacabras" reports. This is from an online catalogue offering such things for sale to collectors and the photo's identifying label is as follows:

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Jamacoaque Large Coatimundi Flat Seal Choice condition. The function of Pre-Columbian seals has long been a matter of debate. They were not used to stamp clay like Near Eastern seals. The lack of evidence in the archaeological record led various researchers to suggest that these seals could have been used for body painting, decorating ceramics, bark or textiles, or sculpting sand. However, Anthony Ortegon's study, "Pre-Columbian Stamp Seals," indicates with a fair amount of certainty that these seals were used to decorate food, specifically breads. His studies indicate that most stamp seals yield evidence of absorbed starches in laboratory testing, which would only occur if the seals were used regularly in the production of food. Although both flat and roller seals were used in food production, roller seals are far less common. Ortegon cites the ratio of flat to roller seals in museum collections as approximately 35:1. Measures 5" in length.
This is almost certainly not a coatimundi! The spine along the head, body and tail seems to have spikes going along one side and the head might be showing the two long strips of skin mentioned in more recent reoports. I would say the surface is meant to be scaly and there is even a fairly good representation of the scales around the mouth. Coatimundis also have neither scales not spots, and their tails are obviously striped instead. No scale is indicated but modern reports frequently give a height of three to four feet, occasionally up to seven feet tall.

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