Researchers didn't think humans attacked woolly mammoths - until they uncovered a trap in Mexico




Researchers didn\
Researchers didn\'t think humans attacked woolly mammoths - until they uncovered a trap in Mexico  

At least 14 skeletons of woolly mammoths have been discovered in Mexico in pits apparently built by human hunters to trap and kill the huge animals some 15,000 years ago, according to Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.

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

The skeletons were found in Tultepec, about 25 miles north of Mexico City, in clay that had once been at the bottom of Lake Xaltocan.

Archaeologist Luis Cordoba Barradas, of INAH's Directorate of Archaeological Rescue, said the discovery offers a more complex and complete concept of how mammoth hunts were carried out.

Archaeologists suggested that the clay area had opened up as the lake receded during the era of mammoths, providing hunters with a site easier to dig up to create traps.

More discoveries: Powerful earthquakes reveal mysterious 15-million-year-old fossil in California

Cordoba Barradas, who led the team, said the finding suggests that groups of between 20 and 30 hunters swept a herd of mammoths with torches and branches to divert some of the animals into the traps. Once there, they were killed and their carcasses cut up.

"There was little evidence before that hunters attacked mammoths. It was thought they frightened them into getting stuck in swamps and then waited for them to die," he told reporters Wednesday. "This is evidence of direct attacks on mammoths. In Tultepec we can see there was the intention to hunt and make use of the mammoths."

He said an important clue was the vertical cuts in the earth where the bones were found, indicating the pit had been dug by humans.

Archaeologists working in the Tultepec sites for 10 months found 824 bones, including eight skulls, five jaws, 100 vertebrae and 179 ribs.

Cordoba Barradas said one skull had what appeared to be a long term fracture, indicating that hunters may have battled that particular mammoth for years. He said the way the bones were ritually displayed indicated that the hunters "had to consider him brave, fierce, and showed him his respect in this way."

While the 14 mammoths found at the site are far less than the hundred-plus found at sites in northern and eastern Europe, the discovery qualifies Tultepec to be listed as a Mammoth Megasites.

Rise of the mammals: Trove of 66-million-year-old fossils discovered from post-dinosaur era

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Woolly mammoth bones found in Mexico shed light on hunting ritual

COMMENTS

More Related News

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)
Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

Brazil stun Mexico in stoppage time to win fourth U-17 World Cup.

Chargers still struggling to build fan base in Los Angeles
Chargers still struggling to build fan base in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Chargers are the designated home team for Monday night's game in Mexico City against the Kansas City Chiefs, perhaps a fitting circumstance for a team that never quite feels at home. With local excitement about the NFL coming back to Mexico after two years, the Chargers could get a warmer

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final
Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

Brazil and Mexico meet for the second time in a U-17 World Cup final.

Parents of missing migrants begin Mexico caravan crossing
Parents of missing migrants begin Mexico caravan crossing

Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Mexico) (AFP) - A caravan made up of 50 parents of disappeared Central American migrants departed on Friday from Mexico's southern border for a cross-country journey in search of their missing relatives. This is the fifteenth time the Mesoamerican Migration Movement (MMM), a non-government organization, has set up a caravan to travel across Mexico in search of migrants who entered the country and went missing. Composed of 45 women and five men, the caravan entered Mexico's southern Chiapas state through Guatemala and will travel some 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) to cities that undocumented Central Americans are known to pass through on their way to the United States.

Gang violence hits Mexican leader
Gang violence hits Mexican leader's ratings, U.S. warns of 'parallel government'

Support for Mexico's president has fallen some ten percentage points during a surge in gang-related violence, a poll showed on Friday, just as the U.S. ambassador voiced concern about "parallel government" by cartels in parts of the country. The Nov. 6-11 survey of 1,000 Mexicans for newspaper El Universal showed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had an approval rating of 58.7%, down from 68.7% in late August. The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America