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15,000-year-old mammoth traps are first proof of ancient hunters

15,000-year-old mammoth traps are first proof of ancient hunters”

A mammoth skull is shown at the bottom of a human-made trap from 15,000 years ago, in Tultepec, Mexico.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History announced Wednesday that it had verified the remains of the extinct giants that date back over 15,000 years.

Good thing they didn't.

"[The discovery] represents a watershed, a touchstone on what we imagined until now was the interaction of hunter-gatherer bands with these enormous herbivores", Pedro Francisco Sánchez Nava, national coordinator of archeology at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, said in a news release.

This differs from anthropologists' previous belief that early humans only killed mammoths that were already wounded or trapped. However, the ancient graveyard demonstrates "social organization by the first settlers of the Basin of Mexico to undertake this hunting activity".

Researchers think that groups of 20 or 30 prehistoric hunters herded the mammoths with torches and branches, attempting to separate one animal from the group and lead it into a trap.

The revelation didn't happen overnight. In that case, workers digging to install drainage pipe uncovered mammoth remains. They then used their boneyard blueprint to paint a picture of how the hunt went down. "They lived alongside other species, including horses and camels", archaeologist Luis Cordoba told journalists.

Archaeologists tour the area in Tultepec, Mexico, where they found the bones of mammoths.

The dig site was slated to become a garbage dump, but the discovery put the plans on hold. Radar surveys of surrounding mammoth grave sites could reveal the presence of similar traps.



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