Mexico finds human-built 'mammoth traps' 15000 years old

Mammoth skeletons and 15,000-year-old human-built traps found in Mexico

"Mammoths lived here for thousands of years".

Mexican anthropologists say they have found two human-built pits dug 15,000 years ago to trap mammoths.

Researchers from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History said on Wednesday (local time) the pits were found during excavations on land that was to be used as a garbage dump.

The discovery suggests that humans were more eager to capture, kill and eat mammoths than researchers previously thought.

Researchers have worked at the site, near where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's government is building a new airport for Mexico City, for nearly 10 months, recovering 824 bones in the roughy 26-feet-deep pit.


In the 1970s, workers building the Mexico City subway found a mammoth skeleton while digging on the capital's north side. Over 10 months, archaeologists exhumed 824 bones - corresponding to 14 animals - from the two tusker traps.

"[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 archeology at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, said in a news release.

Researchers think that groups of 20 or 30 prehistoric hunters herded the mammoths with torches and branches, attempting to separate one animal from the group and lead it into a trap. As a bone-us, the dig even uncovered remains of a horse and camel that have since vanished from the Americas.

It remains unclear whether planned construction of the dump will continue.

According to Salvador Pulido, director of archaeological excavations at INAH, the Tultepec II discovery could just be the "the tip of the iceberg". A series of such traps in the area may have increased hunters' mammoth-trapping success rate.

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