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A mammoth find near the capital

Vista general de los huesos del Mamut descubierto en Santa Ana Tlacotenco, en Milpa Alta. FPTP DMC.INAH. M MARAT
Pity this poor prairie Mammoth. He apparently fell into a ditch at the moment of a volcanic eruption some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago. Hot ash buried him until the past month or so.

Mexican archaeologists are busily unearthing the remains of the mammoth in Santa Ana Tlacotenco, a village on the mountainous outskirts of Mexico City, according to a release by the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Costillas y vértebras del mamífero extinto. FOTO DMC.INAH. M. MARATArchaeologists have excavated 70 percent of the beast, which probably weighed 10 tons, stood 16 or 17 feet tall and was 30 years old, it said. It probably strayed from a mammoth herd in search of a female, it added.

The archaeologists are working at an elevation of about 9,200 feet above sea level, an altitude a little above where the mammoths were thought to live in the basin area around present day Mexico City before their extinction.

This mammoth is not the woolly mammoth made well known by the Ice Age animated movies. Rather it is a Mammuthus columbi, an extinct mammoth similar to an elephant. The Institute release describes the tusk-like protrusions as a bony “defense apparatus,” not tusks. But other sources I see (this one) calls the prairie mammoth had tusks as long as 16 feet. The tusks alone could weigh up to 500 pounds.

The dig is drawing crowds of curious residents of the region, at least 100 a day.

The mammoth skeleton “is one of the most complete ever found in the Mexico Basin, which will allow a more complete study of the animal,” the institute said.


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lol the story would be incomplete if it had not included a love angle (looking for a mate 10,000 years ago HA!)

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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