Digging hole for toilet cistern exposes ancient mammoth bones

A family building a toilet cistern discovered mammoth bones in their garden.

The remarkable find of the bones, believed to be up to 10,000 years old, was made on private property in San Lorenzo Toxico, Mexico, in April.

The Morales family was manually excavating land to build a cistern when they found the paleontological remains just over two meters deep.

Mammoth bones found in Mexico patio
Archaeologist Ana Laura Navarro Martínez (below), assigned to the Mexico State INAH Center, studies bones believed to be up to 10,000 years old that were found on private property in San Lorenzo Toxico, Mexico, in April.
INAH-EDOMEX/Zenger Center

Fabián Morales first thought he had reached a tepetate, a layer of hardened soil found in the Mexican volcanic regions.

But it didn’t take long for him to realize that it might actually be a piece of bone. He told his son Adolfo and the two reported the find to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Mammoth bones found in Mexico patio
Archaeologist Ana Laura Navarro Martínez (below), assigned to the Mexico State INAH Center, photographs bones believed to be up to 10,000 years old that were found on private property in San Lorenzo Toxico, Mexico, in April.
INAH-EDOMEX/Zenger Center

It was determined that Morales had indeed come across a femur and a jawbone from a proboscidean – any of the group of mammals that includes elephants and their extinct relatives – which could be a 10,000-year-old Columbian mammoth (columbian mammoth), the experts said.

INAH said (in Spanish) in a statement obtained by Zenger News: “A proboscidean femur and jaw were identified, ranging in size from 26 to 50 inches; they are estimated to be about 10,000 years old.

“The Ministry of Culture, through the INAH, has recommended a rescue project to remove the bone remains and a segment of charred organic matter.

“A mandible and a femur of a proboscidean, identified by researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a private property in the town of San Lorenzo Toxico, municipality of Ixtlahuaca, represent the first traces of megafauna recorded in this town. in the State of Mexico”.

INAH archaeologist Ana Laura Navarro Martínez said: “For now the bones only tell us that they belong to the Proboscidea family (a large mammal with a trunk), and it will be until the megafauna specialists do the analysis when it is defined if they belong. to a specimen of the Columbian mammoth species, already recorded in the Toluca Valley”.

After analysis, experts should be able to determine whether the bones came from the same individual and, if so, how old they were and whether they were male or female.

Mammoth bones found in Mexico patio
Two robocide bones, a mandible and a femur, were identified by INAH researchers.
INAH-EDOMEX/Zenger Center

The statement said: “One factor that would allow carbon-14 dating… is the presence of charred organic matter near the location of the bones.

“Although… it would be necessary to define if such organic material -perhaps belonging to a thousand-year-old tree- is associated with the same geological stratum as that of the bone remains, its dating would provide more precise information on the age of the whole. .”

The femur and jaw are in a good state of preservation, except for the femoral head, which was struck with a pick during the excavation of the cistern space.

Navarro Martínez hopes that the investigation of the bones “allows us to collect as much information from the site, seeking to better understand the megafauna that populated the Toluca Valley.”

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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