800 mammoth bones unearthed in Mexico

Cheryl Sanders
November 8, 2019

Archeologists have discovered the bones of at least 14 mammoths in two ancient hunting pits north of Mexico City, where it's believed that humans trapped the elephant-like beasts for food in prehistoric times.

Even more excitingly, the team believes that this stash is the oldest known example of a mammoth trap or ambush, set by our ancestors over 14,000 years ago. "This is the largest find of its kind ever made", according to the institute, in a statement. "In Tultepec we can see there was the intention to hunt and make use of the mammoths".

The fossils were found in the municipality of Tultepec near the site where a new airport is under construction.

Experts think that groups of between 20 and 30 hunters used torches and branches to separate some mammoths from their herd and direct them into the traps.

Around 800 bones were found in total in pits about 1.7 metres deep and 25 metres in diameter.

This differs from anthropologists' previous belief that early humans only killed mammoths that were already wounded or trapped. "The herds grew, reproduced, died, were hunted ...they lived alongside other species, including horses and camels", archaeologist Luis Cordoba told journalists.

Mexico has been the scene of surprising mammoth discoveries before.

The two pits were found in Tultepec, just north of Mexico City, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said this week.

It was unclear if plans for the garbage dump would proceed. Radar surveys of surrounding mammoth grave sites could reveal the presence of similar traps.

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