Researchers find 130 new mammoth bones in Mexico City

Hyperaxion Sep 10, 2020

Archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH) hope the finding will help to unravel the mystery of why these animals disappeared.

In May, archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (INAH) announced the discovery of the bones of around 60 mammoths during the construction work for the new Felipe Angeles International Airport in Mexico City.

Now, according to an announcement made in early September, another 130 skeletons have been found.

Researchers find 130 new mammoth bones in Mexico City
(Credit: AFP).

The fossils belong to the species Mammuthus columbi, which inhabited North and Central America during the Pleistocene, a period between 2.5 million and 11.7 thousand years ago.

The bones, found in a superficial layer of sediment, belonged to males, females, and young mammoths who died sometime between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

In May, researchers assumed that the animals had died naturally after getting trapped in the marshy terrain of the region.

In recent months, however, that idea has been challenged after the team identified 15 human skulls, the remains of dogs, camels, and horses, as well as pits scattered throughout the archaeological site.

As the scientists explain, ancestral humans used to make mammoth traps that consisted of digging pits in the ground.

While tests are still being carried out on the bones to try to find butchering marks, archaeologists have already discovered dozens of tools made from bones – which also indicates hunting activity.

Bones found in May.
Bones found in May. (Credit: National Institute of Anthropology and History).

“Here we have found evidence that we have the same kind of tools, but until we can do the laboratory studies to see marks of these tools or possible tools, we can’t say we have evidence that is well-founded,” said archaeologist Ruben Manzanilla Lopez.

Before the discovery in Mexico, the record for mammoth bones found in a single site was from North Dakota, United States, with 61 sets of skeletons.

Archaeologists hope the site in Mexico City will provide clues as to how mammoths disappeared. “I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence,” said paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales.

Check out the AFP news agency video about the discovery:

(Credit: Associated Press).

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