No longer can we expect to discover new lands but, rather, we must conduct in-depth studies in the least-known parts of the world, areas so remote they were last traversed by our ancestors.
The state of Chiapas in southern Mexico is a land characterized by exceptional natural wonders. It is here that the Selva El Ocote tropical rainforest and the mosaic of underground rivers and caves of the Rio La Venta Canyon attracted
speleologist Antonio De Vivo.<br><br>For more than two decades, his multidisciplinary La Venta team of researchers has worked to unravel the secrets long buried in this remote and beautiful region, examining its speleological,
hydrological and archaeological, as well as zoological, botanical and medical aspects.<br><br>Among their dramatic discoveries were the Cueva de La Venta, a huge “through” cave, and the archaeological find El Castillo,
sights that left them speechless, and allowed them to confirm the canyon was an ancient commercial highway, a “silk route” of pre-Columbian Meso America.<br><br>Since winning a Rolex Award in 1993, De Vivo has taken part
in more than 40 expeditions and research projects worldwide, benefiting the scientific community and local indigenous people. Following his research into the caves and hydrology of the Rio La Venta Canyon, the borders of the protected
area were widened. And the missions continue, including in 2013 to the quartzite caves in Venezuela’s <i>tepuis</i> with <a href="/40/laureate/francesco-sauro">Francesco Sauro</a>, a 2014 Young Laureate.