800 mammoth bones unearthed in Mexico


The recently discovered traps for the giant animals were also the first of its kind and is also an unexpected context of mammoth hunting.

Mammoth bones in Tultepec, Mexico.

The first discovery of human-made woolly mammoth traps has shattered myths about how prehistoric humans hunted.

The discovery "represents a watershed, a turning point in what we until now imagined to be the interaction between hunter-gatherers with these huge herbivores", Diego Prieto Hernández, director of the institute, said in a statement.

During 10 months of excavation in the San Antonio Xahuento District in Tultepec, Mexico, 824 bones have been found in the 5.5 feet deep by 82 feet long traps. The team had, according to the Associated Press, stumbled upon two large man-made traps-pits where hunters drove woolly mammoths to their deaths. Researchers found approximately 800 bones in the two pits, along with the remains of a few horses and camels.

Evidence from the scene suggests human hunters cut mammoth meat using rib bones. The holes housed hundreds of 15,000-year-old mammoth bones, leading scientists to deduce that they were purposefully ensnared in the quarry.

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Wooly mammoths, elephant-like creatures that once inhabited nearly every continent, became extinct about 4,000 years ago.

Each pit was filled with bones, and some showed signs that they'd been butchered.

These are some of the remains of at least 14 mammoth specimens found in the traps.

"They must have considered it fearless and ferocious, showing their respect with this particular arrangement", INAH archaeologist Luis Cordoba said. Rountrey is more cautious, telling Rueb that experts "are looking forward to seeing a peer-reviewed publication that presents the evidence for human construction of the traps".

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