From “Rare Animal-Shaped Mounds Discovered in Peru” (ScienceDaily, Mar. 29, 2012), we learn,
For more than a century and a half, scientists and tourists have visited massive animal-shaped mounds, such as Serpent Mound in Ohio, created by the indigenous people of North America. But few animal effigy mounds had been found in South America until University of Missouri anthropology professor emeritus Robert Benfer identified numerous earthen animals rising above the coastal plains of Peru, a region already renowned for the Nazca lines, the ruined city of Chan Chan, and other cultural treasures.
“The mounds will draw tourists, one day,” Benfer said. “Some of them are more than 4,000 years old. Compare that to the effigy mounds of North America, which date to between 400 and 1200 AD. The oldest Peruvian mounds were being built at the same time as the pyramids in Egypt.”
Google Earth images of the mounds revealed the shapes of birds, including a giant condor, a 5,000 year-old orca, a duck, and a caiman/puma monster seen in bone and rock carvings from the area.
Some think that, apart from their religious and cultural significance, they provided astronomical observations useful to farmers:
“For example, knowing that December 21 had passed was very important. If there was no sign of an El Niño by then, fishers would know they would have another good year, and farmers would face neither drought nor floods,” Benfer said.
This is a relatively minor “earlier than thought” – compared to pushing back what we know by hundreds of thousands of years – but every little bit helps.
See also: Timing of human use of fire pushed back by 300,000 years
and Site shows religion, not agriculture, was prehistoric organizing force
Also: Were people cooking two million years ago?