Researchers from three Chilean universities have discovered a 5-foot-tall moai statue created by Indigenous Rapa Nui people on Easter Island.
The discovery was made in a dry lake bed within the Rano Raruku volcano, where the laguna began to dry up in 2018. Moai statues represent ancestors and have been part of a Polynesian tradition to honour them. This is the first time a moai has been found in a dry lake bed, and the team will use carbon-14 dating to figure out its age. The island’s tallest moai statue stands at 33 feet and can weigh up to 80 tons.
Climate-induced changes have led to this discovery, and strong storms and rising sea levels have caused erosion and damage to many of the statues. Islanders are building a retaining wall to prevent future damage.