The Arizona State University Hispanic Research Center has created a comprehensive project that includes books, video DVDs, DVD-ROMs, a Web site, education courses using the Internet, the establishment of a non-profit Society for the Preservation of the Resplendent Quetzal in Nature, and other components.
For approximately twenty years the HRC has received continued support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train undergraduate and graduate underrepresented minority students and women from baccalaureate level through PhD in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Over the past decade, as part of those NSF grants, the HRC has supported considerable scientific research by students and their faculty mentors on the resplendent quetzal in Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States and has sent NSF-funded students to do fieldwork on the RQ and at Central American and Mesoamerican archaeological sites, many of which have temples and palaces dedicated to the quetzal-based deities and rulers. In parallel fashion to this NSF-funded research, we have taught courses in Costa Rica on the humanistic dimensions of biodiversity, with a special focus on neo-tropical birds, many of which, such as the resplendent quetzal, the various macaws, parrots, hummingbirds, eagles, the horned guan, the orópendola, the quechól (a bright red flamingo whose feathers complement those of the resplendent quetzal in pre-Hispanic featherwork), and the toucans and toucanets, have had religious, mythological, and other cultural significance for approximately 3,000 years.
As a result of this decade and more of student training and research in Central America, mostly related to our science projects but also including humanities courses, the HRC has accumulated an enormous data set that includes about 400 hours of digital video of the RQ and other neo-tropical birds, and of many archaeological sites where monuments, sculptures and the like pertaining to the RQ, quetzal-related deities, and quetzal-based rulers exist, including Cacaxtla, Chich’en Itza, Cholula, Copán, Iximche, Kaminaljuyu, Mixco Viejo, Palenque, Quiriguá, Teotihuacan, Tikal, Utatlán, Uxmal, and Xochicalco. Similarly, the HRC has collected more than 10,000 digital photographs and 35 mm slides of subjects related to the quetzal. Furthermore, the HRC has accumulated hundreds of articles and books and numerous material objects including textiles, posters, and works of artisans that are quite valuable to this project.