However, recent finds by paleontologists from the University of Colorado and the Universidad de Quito in Ecuador indicate the platform may date back to the Early Pleistocene Epoch, over 1.8 million years ago. Dr. Juan Lavamanos and his Andean excavation team first came across a parallel set of heavily corroded metal rails in the Altiplano region of eastern Peru last year. Initially believed to be remnants of a 14th century Inca sculpture, further research with local men revealed the boxed tubes to be a nearly complete frame from a Mercury Grand Marquis. With the help of published documentation from a long-lost Chilton publication, these findings were verified.
As researchers dug further, they found similar unexplained discoveries from towns and villages across the region. A few corroborating accounts from West Africa, many of which were substantially older than the Peruvian discovery. This geographical diversity does not date the vehicle all the way back to the Pangea Supercontinent, but rather indicates that the vehicle's technology could have been shared across oceans, among numerous cultures, and even across several millenia.
When asked who might have utilized the large, V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive vehicles during that time period, Dr. Lavamanos replied "Probably a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals." The early hominids actually went extinct during the same period, leading researchers to speculate the extinction might have been linked to aggressive driving, including drag races, "doughnuts," and burnouts.
Team members also speculate that the Panther's performance antics could be the exact technology the early Peruvians utilized to create their complex "Nazca Line" designs across the high desert. The designs--ranging from impossibly straight paths to intricate, enormous animals--have confounded researchers for decades.
|Nazca monkey - evidence of precision car control?|
Dr. Lavamanos is quick to point out, however, that the majority of usage would have been for taxi and police services. "Aggressive maneuvers were usually efforts to encourage mating among the species, but evidence suggests only the weakest and stupidest females would have been impressed. This probably further contributed to the species' demise."
"With the difficult terrain of the Andes, mobility was very important for the Inca." Dr. Lavamanos continues, "However, many of these vehicles fell from steep cliffs and remained buried in mud and rock for eons. It would be another two million years before all-wheel-drive would be invented. Inca folklore believed that using the front wheels to move a car was the work of the devil."
In related news, The Thor Heyerdahl Foundation has announced preparations for their "Lincoln-tiki," a Town Car they plan to drive from Alaska to Argentina as a tribute to the resourcefulness and engineering of ancient man.