Extinct giants are among many animals depicted in an 8-mile-long (13-kilometer-long) frieze of rock paintings at Serranía de la Lindosa in the Colombian Amazon rainforest — art created by some of the earliest humans to live in the region, according to a new study. “(The paintings) have the whole diversity of Amazonia. Turtles and fishes to jaguars, monkeys and porcupines,” said study author Jose Iriarte, a professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Iriarte calls the frieze, which likely would have been painted over millennia, “the last journey,” as he said it represents the arrival of humans in South America, the last region to be colonized by Homo sapiens as they spread around the world from Africa. He added that the early humans encountered these large-bodied mammals and they likely painted them, and the paintings are very naturalistic where morphological features of the animals can be seen.

However, the “extinct megafauna’s” discovery among the dazzlingly beautiful paintings is contentious and debatable. While Iriarte acknowledges that the new research is not conclusive in this argument, he is certain they have discovered evidence of early human contacts with some of the world’s vanishing giants. The five animals identified in the paper are: a giant ground sloth with massive claws, a gomphothere (an elephant-like creature with a domed head, flared ears, and a trunk), an extinct lineage of the horse with a thick neck, a camelid like a camel or a llama, and a three-toed ungulate with a trunk. He claims that they are well-known due to preserved skeletons, which allow paleontologists to reconstruct what they must have looked like.