Archaeologists have discovered two hundred ancient mammoth skeletons beneath a future airport’s construction site, north of Mexico City.
The largest collection of mammoth bones ever have been found. Archaeologists at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History unearthed two human-dug mammoth traps in November 2019 as part of routine excavations to clear land for the airport site, only to realise the area might hide mammoth remains.
It was discovered that the traps were used as a garbage dump, and contained 14 Columbian breed mammoths.
At the traps, just 12 miles away from the Felipe Ãngeles International Airport, an extraction team discovered that the dried-up bed of Lake Xaltocan contained over 60 mammoth skeletons.
"There are too many. There are hundreds," said Pedro SÃ¡nchez Nava, an archaeologist at the institute.
The previous largest mammoth site that was discovered in Hot Springs, South Dakota, also held the remains of about 60 mammoths.
Scientists reveals that the Columbian mammoths arrived in North America about 1 million years ago, and stood up to 14 feet tall. Studies also show that the Columbian mammoth lived about as long as humans which is between 70 to 80 years.
The Columbian mammoths also didn't have much hair, which is an adaptation to North America's warmer climate.
Columbian mammoths went extinct between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago. Many paleontologists think prehistoric human hunters played a major role, and it is clear that humans killed mammoths in pits such as discovered, but it is not clear whether they also played a part in driving the 200-plus mammoths into the lake bed.
According to SÃ¡nchez Nava the mammoths could have drowned or died of starvation since the lake's grasses and reeds would have attracted the mammoths to feed, and they would have fallen in.
The other prevailing theory suggested by scientists is that the mammoths died because of habitat loss caused by warming weather as the ice age ended.
According to paleontologist, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, who works at the anthropology institute, he believes that it could be a combination of human based and habitat factors. "I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence," Joaquin stated.
Further laboratory tests will be conducted on the bones found in the pits that could help paleontologists determine whether humans played a part in the deaths of the mammoths.