According to Maya mythology, the splendor of the principal entity, the Feathered Serpent, is exalted at Lake Atitlán in southwestern Guatemala. A chance look at a phenomenon in the natural environment reveals the possible geophysical basis of this myth.
More than poetic fancy, the flight of the Feathered Serpent could refer to the dissipation of a soliton wave formed in the 130-km2 caldera lake. In the myth, recounted in the sixteenth century document los anales de los caqchiqueles, the newly acceded leader of the Kaqchikel-speaking Maya tribe rises from the lake transformed as the Feathered Serpent [Recinos and Goetz, 1953, p. 76]. Residents claim a gigantic serpent, Xocomil, still lives in the waters.