Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Southern > Paleo-Indian Hunters of South Central Chile


The Paleo-Indians hunted large herbivores that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period (the megafauna), such as New World horses, prehistoric lamoids (llama relatives), and mylodons (ground sloths), but the guanaco always remained their main food source. Their group hunting techniques required coordination among a large group of people, which surrounded or cornered game animals before incapacitating them with bolas or darts flung with atlatls (spear throwers) tipped with characteristic ‘fishtail’ points. These groups also hunted birds, rodents, and the Ñandú or Rhea (a large flightless bird), and gathered certain plant materials. Their economy was notably land-based, and no evidence has been found to suggest that they used any marine resources. They lived in highly mobile groups and the low population density allowed them to move freely throughout their extensive territories.