During his travels, Alexander von Humboldt came across the cave of Ataruipe in Venezuela. This cave was the cemetery of an extinct nation, the Atures, containing about six hundred skeletons placed in baskets called mapires, shaped like square sacks. His interpreter could not give him certain information as to the age of the skeletons, but a parrot contained a clue.
The Atures had been attacked by the Caribs, and, under their assault, had withdrawn to the rocks of the Cataracts, where they finally, sadly perished, and with them, their language. However, in Maypures there still lived an old parrot, the last speaker of the dead tongue, whom no one could still understand. This unique bird was the last being who could still speak the Ature language.