Paleontological Museum in Tocuila
The Paleontological Museum in Tocuila (Museo Paleontológico en Tocuila) displays part of one of the richest deposits of Late Pleistocene fauna in America. International groups of archeologists discovered a large quantity of bones, mainly mammoth remains, estimated to be 11,000 to 12,000 years old, in an ancient river mouth that used to flow into the Lake Texcoco.
The discovery of the site happened by accident in 1996. While Joaquín Ramírez was overseeing the excavation and construction of a cistern in the property of his brother Celso, he noticed that the dirt being removed was different from what he usually would find when digging in that area. Supposing it had to be bones, he informed his brother, who in turn, notified the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH; National Institute of Anthropology and History). Since then many studies have been conducted in order to explain the large concentration of bones in the area.
Description of the Site
In the 28 square meters that have been explored, at a depth of three meters, the remains of seven mammoths were found together along with bones of ungulates, rabbits and aquatic animals. The results of most of the studies of the remains indicate an age of 10,000 to 12,000 years
The mode of accumulation of the remains is still uncertain. Nevertheless, there are several hypotheses that try to explain it. The first studies discussed the possibility that the mammoths were trapped by the flow of an ancient river, or a mudflow (Lahar). Claus Siebe, Peter Schaaf and Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi propose the lahar originated from the Popocatépetl volcano, while the research of S. Gonzalez, D. Huddart, L. Morett-Alatorre, J. Arroyo-Cabrales and O.J. Polaco presents prove that the lahar was caused by the Nevado de Toluca.
J. Arroyo-Cabrales, E. Johnson and L. Morett analyzed the fractured bones found in the area, and concluded there was human activity engaged in bone quarrying efforts to produce cores and flakes for future use, similar to the bone technology also seen in North America in the Late Pleistocene to manufacture tools.
- Claus Siebe, Peter Schaaf und Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi: Mammoth bones embedded in a late Pleistocene lahar from Popocatepetl Volcano, near Tocuila, central Mexico. GSA Bulletin, October 1999, v. 111, no. 10, p. 1550-1562
- México Desconocido No. 322, Dezember 2003
- S. Gonzalez, D. Huddart, L. Morett-Alatorre, J. Arroyo-Cabrales, O.J. Polaco: Mammoths, volcanism and early humans in the basin of Mexico during the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene, Rome 2001, The World of Elephants - International Congress
- J. Arroyo-Cabrales, E. Johnson, L. Morett: Mammoth bone technology at Tocuila in the Basin of Mexico. Rome 2001, The World of Elephants - International Congress; p.419-423
- Jerjes Pantoja Alor: ¿Por qué se extinguieron los mamuts? Jornada, 24. April 2000