The Quetzal Dance is thought to be one of the most ancient. Both the dance and the spectacular headdresses worn by those taking part are thought to pre-date the Conquest, perhaps by hundreds of years.
The Quetzal bird of Central America ( Ket-zal) and the rattle snake shared the position of most reviered creatures by the ancient Maya.
The very rare Long-tailed Central American bird Pharomachus mocinno of the trogon family, order Trogoniformes. The male is brightly coloured, with green, red, blue, and white feathers. It has a train of blue-green plumes (tail coverts) that hang far beyond the true tail feathers. There is a crest on the head and decorative drooping feathers on the wings. It is about 1.3 m/4.3 ft long including tail. The female is smaller and lacks the tail and plumage.
The Quetzal eats fruit, insects, and small frogs and lizards. It is the national emblem of Guatemala, and was considered sacred by the Mayans and the Aztecs. The Quetzal's forest habitat is rapidly being destroyed, and hunting of birds for trophies or souvenirs also threatens its survival.
They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico. They are fairly large (all over 32 cm or 13 inches long), slightly bigger than other trogon species. Quetzals have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, and a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females' plumage are brown or grey.
These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (such as frogs). Despite their bright plumage, they can be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats.
The feathers of the irradencent Quetzal were used in Royal costume and ceremonial garb for kings and priests. The Quetzal symboloized the movement of Creation and the will of the Creator come to earth. As the Serpent moves side to side on the ground, the Quetzal flaps and glides through the jungle. That is it moves up and down in it progression. The Maya knew that Creation moves from Day to Night or Creation to Destruction in a wave like pattern.