Scientists discovered a new ‘Moai’ stone statue in a dry lake bed on Easter Island.
A group composed of geologists from three different Chilean universities uncovered the megalithic statue within the crater of the Rano Raraku volcano. They were investigating the area in a restoration effort after fires devastated the land the previous year.
At just 5 feet, the new moai is tiny compared to the other 1,000 statues present on the remote island. The largest statue named Moai Paro stands 33 tall and weighs 90 tons.
Nonetheless, the discovery of the new Moai statue on Easter Island suggests that the once-submerged location may contain more figures and tools nearby.
The Rapa Nui people once carved the Moai using chisels, adzes, and other tools to create intricate details and smooth surfaces.
“This moai has great potential for scientific and natural studies – it’s a really unique discovery as it’s the first time that a moai has been discovered inside a laguna lake in a Rano Raraku crater,” the Ma’u Henua Indigenous community announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Easter Island is a protected national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Researchers believe that its first settlers arrived more than 1,000 years ago, erecting the famous monolithic human figures around 400 to 700 years ago. This finding adds valuable insight into the history and culture of the indigenous Rapa Nui people.
Salvador Atan Hito, vice president of Ma’u Henua Indigenous Community, told Good Morning America that researchers intend to conduct radiocarbon dating on organic materials linked to the statue. Furthermore, this will determine the exact time of its creation.