Human-made ‘mammoth traps’ found at 15,000-year-old site in Mexico
Human-made ‘mammoth traps’ found at 15,000-year-old site in Mexico
The pits were found during excavations on land that was to be used as a garbage dump
08 November, 2019, 13:56
The trove includes 824 bones from at least 14 different animals and was unearthed in central Mexico.
Early hunters may have herded the elephant-sized mammals into the traps using torches and branches more than 14,000 years ago. The human-made pits each measured about 1.7 metres (6 feet) deep and 25 metres wide, with 90-degree walls to prevent mammoths from climbing out. Remains of two other species that disappeared in the Americas - a horse and a camel - were also found.
Each pit was filled with bones, and some showed signs that they'd been butchered. The recently discovered traps for the giant animals were also the first of its kind and is also an unexpected context of mammoth hunting.
The latest discovery suggests, to the contrary, that some of the earliest settlers of the Basin of Mexico used the environment and social organization to systematically hunt woolly mammoths. These finds showed that early humans hunted mammoths and only attacked them after the enormous animal fell in the traps created by the humans.
Researchers said at least five mammoth herds lived in the area of the find.
They represent "a watershed, a turning point in what we until now imagined to be the interaction between hunter-gatherers with these huge herbivores", says the institute's director, per the BBC.
The land where the ancient pits and trapped mammoths were found is located in the neighborhood of Tultepec, a few miles north of Mexico City.
It was unclear if plans for the garbage dump would proceed. Researchers found approximately 800 bones in the two pits, along with the remains of a few horses and camels.
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