Mexico‘s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in its recent discovery said at least 14 woolly mammoth skeletons have been uncovered in Mexico in traps built by humans about 15,000 years ago.
The excavation of a site in Tultepec, north Mexico city, revealed the skeletons, which Mexico’s Anthropology described as “the largest find of its kind ever made.”
National Sportslink learned that the pits measured around 80 feet in width, large enough to contain the gigantic tusks and other skeleton fragments of the huge creatures, which could weigh up to six tons.
According to researchers, one of the skulls bore the mark of a spear wound, but most of the animals’ remains were fully intact, leading scholars to believe that hunters chased the animals to the mass grave, perhaps scaring them with lit torches until they fell into the pit. Experts are now calling it the “world’s first mammoth trap.”
Speaking to the Associated Press, the leader of the excavation team, Luis Córdova Barradas, said there was evidence that the area was home to around six herds of mammoths, and with this discovery, there is finally “evidence of direct attacks on mammoths. In Tultepec we can see there was the intention to hunt and make use” of the animals.
The site was discovered as workers were clearing the area for a planned garbage dump ahead of the construction of a new airport to serve Mexico City under the government of president Manuel Lopez Obrador
Archaeologists thought early humans only killed mammoths if the animals were trapped or hurt. However, INAH’s discovery of the human-built traps could mean such hunts were planned.
Diego Prieto Hernández, director of the institute, said the discovery “represents a watershed, a turning point in what we until now imagined to be the interaction between hunter-gatherers with these huge herbivores”.
The two pits are about 1.7m (5ft 6in) deep and 25m in diameter. Excavations at the site have been taking place for 10 months.