They found an ancient city.
Christopher Fisher, an archeologist, and Stephen Leisz, a geology professor, were part of an international research team that found the site known in legend as the "City of the Monkey God" and the "White City."
The news was first reported this week by National Geographic, which sent a photographer and reporter with the research team.
Archeologists surveyed and mapped extensive plazas, earthworks, mounds, and an earthen pyramid belonging to a culture that thrived a thousand years ago, and then vanished. The team, which returned from the site last Wednesday, also discovered a remarkable cache of stone sculptures that had lain untouched since the city was abandoned.
In contrast to the nearby Maya, this vanished culture has been scarcely studied and it remains virtually unknown. Archeologists don't even have a name for it.
Fisher and Leisz first found the area in 2012 by analyzing images from a light-detection and ranging machine. Such multi-million dollar LiDAR machines can penetrate dense forest canopies and create high-resolution maps of the ground, the New Yorker reported in 2013 in an extensive preview of the expedition.
“Through this amazing project we were able to use LiDAR as a tool of discovery that resulted in the discovery of a lost world,” Fisher said in a press release. “We hope to continue this work in the future to more fully unravel this puzzle through archeological excavation and ecological investigation.
The team prepared the site for an excavation, which is scheduled for the "near future."