Mexico (CNN) (05/28/20)— Archaeologists have found the skeletal remains of dozens of huge mammoths at a construction site outside Mexico City.
They’ve unearthed the bones of about 60 mammoths at the site in Zumpango, where the General Felipe Ángeles International Airport is being built, according to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
The area, which is about 30 miles northeast of the capital, was once part of Lake Xaltocan, and scientists believe the animals probably died when they got stuck in the lake, the INAH said in a statement translated from Spanish.
They found the remains of male, female, and young mammoths at three sites.
Scientists found no signs that humans had hunted the mammals, but it is possible that people may have used some of them after they got stuck.
The bones were found just a few miles away from a site in Tultepec, where scientists found large traps that were used to catch mammoths about 15,000 years ago.
The mammoths belong to the species Mammuthus columbi, or Columbian Mammoth, which lived in what is now North America and Central America during the Pleistocene epoch that ended about 12,000 years ago.
Columbian mammoths were bigger than modern-day African elephants, and unlike their more famous cousin, the woolly mammoth, they are not believed to have been covered in shaggy fur.
Researchers are still studying the bones at the airport site and don’t yet know how many complete skeletons they’ve found, said Pedro Francisco Sánchez Nava, national archeology coordinator at the INAH, according to the statement.
A team of about 30 archaeologists and other specialists has been working at the site since specimens were first found in October, he said.
They also found the remains of 15 people, who were buried during the pre-Hispanic period.
Some were buried with pots, bowls, and clay figurines.
The artifacts may be preserved in a museum proposed by the INAH, the institute said.
Their discovery will not interfere with the construction of the airport, which will serve Mexico City, said Salvador Pulido Méndez of the INAH.
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