Published: Fri, November 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Over 800 mammoth bones discovered in massive fossil stash in Mexico

Over 800 mammoth bones discovered in massive fossil stash in Mexico

The trove includes 824 bones from at least 14 different animals and was unearthed in central Mexico. Woolly mammoths once roamed the area around Mexico City some 15,000 years ago - and early humans were hot on their trail. The human-made pits each measured about 1.7 metres (6 feet) deep and 25 metres wide, with 90-degree walls to prevent mammoths from climbing out.

An expert works on mammoth bones found in what is believed to be the first mammoth trap set by humans, in Tultepec, Mexico, in a photo released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology (INAH).

Specifically, scientists hypothesized that groups of 20 to 30 hunters would "herd" the mammoths into the holes with torches and branches. The recently discovered traps for the giant animals were also the first of its kind and is also an unexpected context of mammoth hunting.

The discovery "represents a watershed, a touchstone on what we imagined until now was the interaction of hunter-gatherer bands with these enormous herbivores", said Pedro Francisco Sánchez Nava, national coordinator of archaeology at INAH, in a statement.

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"Mammoths lived here for thousands of years".

In the 1970s, workers building the Mexico City subway found a mammoth skeleton while digging on the capital's north side.

It's unclear if plans for the dump will be altered to accommodate the site.

According to Salvador Pulido, director of archaeological excavations at INAH, the Tultepec II discovery could just be the "the tip of the iceberg". "They lived alongside other species, including horses and camels".

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