Mammoth remains discovered in Mexico
April 16th, 2013
11:26 AM ET

Mammoth remains discovered in Mexico

Read this story in Spanish at

By CNN Mexico Staff

The remains of a mammoth have been uncovered south of Mexico City, researchers at Mexico's National Institute for Anthropology and History said.

"For the first time in Latin America, magnetic, electric and ground-penetrating radar methods were applied in paleontology... (methods that are) commonly used in archaeological excavations to detect architectural (findings)," the institute said. Ground-penetrating radar is a technique that uses electromagnetic radiation to generate a picture of the subsurface.

Paleontologists and archaeologists worked together to use these approaches, which saved the scientists time, and helped them determine the magnitude of the discovery before the excavation process started last March.

Researchers said that the specimen is a male Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) that died approximately 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. The animal was approximately 30 years old at the moment of its death. Its body remained covered by a one-meter thick grave of ashes in a gorge, where it fell during a volcano eruption.

This mammoth is one of the most complete that has been found in Mexico. According to Joaquin Arroyo, mammalian fauna specialist, parts of the bones, legs and canine teeth are usually what's found in the country.

The residents of Santa Ana Tlacotenco, a town in the southern, rural part of the city, discovered the molars of the animal by chance in 2012 in a sandy terrain covered by nopales, a type of cactus in that area. The discovery attracted the researchers, who suspected they might find the full body.

About a month after the excavation started, a sense of expectation has been hanging in the air. During the Holy Week festivities, about 100 people from nearby towns went to the site of the excavation to listen to the investigators’ explain the animal's anatomy.

Up to now, the paleontologists have been able to expose the tusks, parts of the skull and jawbone, as well as some ribs and vertebrae. The investigators are yet to find 30% of the bones, according to the group of scientists from the National Institute for Anthropology and History, the Anthropological Investigations Institute and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

After the discovery of the fossils, residents of the area told the researchers that the owners of one house found another mammoth’s fossils 15 years ago, but they reburied them.

The National Institute for Anthropology and History said that they are exploring the possibility of restoring the fossils to be studied and later exposed in the town’s library or at the Milpa Alta Museum.

Mammoths are an extinct species in the elephant family that existed in the Pliocene and Holocene periods. They were 16 feet tall and weighed 10 tons. Their tusks were approximately 9 feet long and they used to live in grasslands and areas close to lakes.

In 2012, the fossil of another mammoth was discovered in Queretaro, a neighbor state to Mexico City.

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Filed under: News • On Earth
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Canine teeth?

    April 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  2. Abe


    Who mentioned gematria?

    April 18, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  3. fgtwit

    The mammoth was born in Medellín, Columbia, on his way to North America, when he got caught in the mammoth gang war and died tusked in Mexico City.

    April 18, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  4. knowcube

    There's a great specimen (found decades ago) on display at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. Mammoths turn up quite frequently (geologically speaking) in Mexico.

    April 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  5. boB

    Oh this is terrifying, terrifying I say! Now we really need that fence at the border before better-educated-than-us Mexicans learn how to resurrect some monsters with DNA and whole herds head north to trample us in our sleep while we're exhausted from reading Creationist textbooks all day and that's not fair to the alligators under our beds what planned t' eat us. We cowboys need more guns to protect ourselfs, more guns I say!

    April 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ralph

      By George!

      April 18, 2013 at 5:23 am |
  6. Adela Adekunle

    I believe that the human existance is as olds the earth itself, thus this discovery is another evidence that man had lived for thousands of years

    April 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Kilgore Trout


      April 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • paullubbock

      Adele, are you drinking before noon again? bad girl

      April 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • Tessalynn


        April 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  7. Colin

    They are thinking of shipping it to Washington DC and putting it on a path to citizenship.

    April 17, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • paullubbock

      They should, it would work harder and better then the current pack of legislators in DC.

      April 17, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Nikolas

      Whoa! Some dude identified the story as being about Mexico and decided that everything about Mexico is also about US immigration policies. Guy should get a job as an improv artist!

      April 17, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  8. cwh

    Ahh that was an interesting article, now lets alfight with each other about it...

    April 17, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • stoicwes

      Sweet, I'll choose to spout off about religion because I dont really understand jack $#I^ about science ...

      April 17, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • Joe

      More proof of global warming...change.

      April 17, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Norm

      The world is only 6000 years old.

      April 17, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • nomsycool

        Hi Norm. I Love your argument. You seem to accept what the Bible says and reject the God-dishonouring belief of evolution. Such blown-out dates as published in science journals do not agree with what the Bible teaches.

        April 17, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Nikolas

      Mammoths are a trick by the devil to make us think elephants are naked

      April 17, 2013 at 11:11 am |
      • Soujatya

        hahaha xD

        April 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  9. Abe

    Bill – Nahmanides quote comes from his published work on his commentary on the Bible. Originally written in Hebrew but i'm sure you can find an English translation. Try searching "Nahmanides commentary Genesis Big Bang". I've got the full volumes at home but in the original hebrew which is readily availble. You'll find a lot of explanations if you search on the internet. Loads of discussions about it. You'll also find stuff where Kabbalah talks about previous world's, other dimensions etc. However, i'm comfortable with quoting ~Nahmanides but out of my depth when it comes to Kabbalah. It's ineteresting to read and ponder perhaps appreciate but that's my limit. What I learn from knowing that it exists is that the religion taught today is a totally different religion or belief that was once accepted.

    April 17, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      Profound thanks, Abe.

      April 17, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • logan

      Totally right!

      April 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  10. Abelardo

    Ahh! La Paca lo enterro

    April 17, 2013 at 2:29 am |
  11. kmcwilliams18

    Reblogged this on From The Desk of K. McWilliams and commented:

    April 17, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  12. fishergirlusmc

    The earth is well over 5 BILLION years old. National Geographic did a very well researched program called "How the Earth was Made". The first episode was 2 hours and then they did an hourly series for at least 2 years. The earth has gone through many ice ages and extreme volcanic activity. The last 10000 years have been very stable as compared to other times in earths history. It gives me pause to see man's hubris in thinking he can control this planet.
    The Bible does not say how old the earth is. However, there is a Book that was taken out of the Bible called 'The Book of Enoch" It is a fascinating book that describes in great detail all the phases of the moon, sun, constellations and oceans. The Book was written well over 7000 years ago before any form of modern technology as we know. You can read a snippet of it at Amazon. Peace.

    April 17, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Kilgore Trout

      That would be 2,000 years older than the earliest writing known to exist.

      April 17, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Colin

      Oh The oldest writings date from about 4,000 years ago

      April 17, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • jimmynog

      Why is it "the Earth"? Do you say "the Mars" and "the Jupiter" as well?

      April 17, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  13. Jeff

    I would guess they will find a lot of Mammoths in South America and Mexico due to probably migration to get away from the ice age developing north to south.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  14. Spiker

    This article is BS at best. I am sure that there is a Mammoth find they talk about but mammoth or "Mamut" to the Mexicans, are quite common in the Mexico City Valley. I have seen several and was give some bones by and laborer. Hundreds of specimens did not deserve the attention of the "Paleontologists" but since they got their new toys this Mamut is suddenly worth of international news. A huge amount of history is destroyed every day due to neglect and a lack of interest on the part of the powers that be...but now they got some cool toys to play with just like first world countries. BFD

    April 16, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Kilgore Trout

      I think every find is a big deal. I wish they all got this level of attention. I see no reason to fault the journalists because this find – indeed one of many – happened to hit their radar and they chose to write about i.

      April 17, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  15. Kilgore Trout

    The article is incorrect regarding geologic epochs. Mammoth and their kin are Pliocene through Pleistocene. They were extinct in all but a few isolated areas (mostly islands) by the beginning of the Holocene.

    April 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Thryothorus dude

      @Kilgore Trout It seems that you are the one that is incorrect. If there were populations that made it to the Holocene–even small or disjointed populations–then as the article says the mammoth existed "in the Pliocene and Holocene periods." How could you say they didn't exist in the Holocene when they clearly did?

      April 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
      • Kilgore Trout

        I guess I see your point, but the onset of the Holocene is in part defined by the extinction event that includes these mammoth. The exception of lingering mammoth on Wrangel Island and other refugia is just that – a special exception to the larger pattern. To my knowledge there are no Holocene-aged mammoth in Mexico.

        April 17, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  16. JanetMermaid

    I wish there was a sense of scale with the photo. How big are those buckets? Are they standard buckets or small buckets just for archeologists? What is the spacing of the grid lines? There's no way to tell how big those bones are.

    April 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Kilgore Trout

      The grid is most likely 1 X 1 meter squares. The yellow dustpans are probably regular household dustpans, if that gives you a sense of scale. Columbian mammoth stood a little taller than African elephants.

      April 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Kamikaze

      The buckets were brought in by industrial forklifts. Each one was shipped by 747 cargo planes then pieced together at the scene.

      April 17, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  17. aroth

    Clone it!

    April 16, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  18. gstlab3

    have the libs blamed bush for the mammoth death yet?

    April 16, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Terry Wisland

      So much hate... How do you get through the day?

      April 16, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Gary

      gstlab3 .. you are the cause of Bush

      April 17, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  19. what!!!

    an excellent artical.

    April 16, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  20. caesarbc

    I don't know if I should be excited about the find or the fact that Mexico actually has a fully-functioning archaeology cultural resources compliance program in place (?).

    April 16, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • spyroo

      yea mexicans are so stupid and dumm that the richest person in the world carlos slim is mexican not bill gates or donald trump

      April 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Nora

      Really???? I'm surprised that there are still narrowed minded people like yourself!!! Let me guess, you think mexicans ride donkeys, wear big sombreros and live in dirt cottages. You should study a little bit more, there's a whole world waiting for you outside!!

      April 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  21. cpc65

    It died because one of the coke balloons in it's rectum burst on it's way to the US border.

    April 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • James Tyler

      You are so funny!! Ha ha... I'm pretty sure that darwinisim will take care of you, for your hick-ass will die in a very stupid and clever way... 🙂

      April 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  22. Mr. Flibble

    It's Obama's fault that the mammoth went extinct!

    April 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  23. Johndoe

    false alarm guys, it was the brother if president Peña Nieto.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  24. Joep

    CNN should just do away with the comment section. The majority of comments are j3rky.

    April 16, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Bañuelos


      April 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Arby

      Agreed! It's nothing but a place for people to showcase their ignorance and intolerance.

      April 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Brad

      But would as many people click on the article if they knew they couldn't make a snide remark :/. CNN is a business like anyone else. By the way, a very cool article :).

      April 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • cpc65

      That would be censorship. As much as I hate seeing the imbecilic comments I'd rather not feel like I live in Iran.

      April 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
      • Rod K

        Censorship? It's CNN's website. They don't have to provide you or anyone else with a platform to make remarks. If you disagree I guess you wouldn't mind anyone putting bumper stickers on your car... if you object you'd be guilty of censorship.

        April 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • BRB

      Get a life you geek. If you want to wine, go to the liquor store.

      April 16, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • shaleefa


        April 17, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • neff

      your so right

      April 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • shaleefa

        you're... good gracious we are an uneducated bunch of people here in the USA. The earth is only 5000 years old too (or is it two or to?)

        April 17, 2013 at 3:51 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      Joep - Want to get rid of the trolls and drooling racists and yapping blog-dogs here? Want to raise the level of comments? Just require the real name of each poster appear with his or her comment.

      April 17, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  25. sybaris

    It would be interesting to know how many christian paleontologists there are.

    April 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • DJ Reality

      Why don't you look for a date somewhere else. Like or something like that.

      April 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Quite a lot, actually. Very few christian churches have any problem with evolution or deep time; that's a view that's peculiar to the protestants, in particular the evangelical southern baptists.

      April 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • Bill Marvel

        Six Degrees– Apparently this is a well-kept secret among many posters here, who imagine that Christians have some peculiar problem with paleontology and evolution. I suppose it's because fundamentalism is the only kind of Christianity they can imagine.
        At the Jesuit high school I attended, one of the faculty, a Jesuit no less, had published extensively on mammoth fossils, many of which he had unearthed.

        April 17, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      Sybaris - You might start your research at Teilhard de Chardin. Then you can move on the Abbe Breuile. That should get you started,

      April 17, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  26. CosmicC

    What do they mean this was the first time GPR was used in paleontology? They used it in Jurassic Park and if it was in a Michael Crichton movie it must be true!

    April 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • jray

      For the first time in Latin America

      April 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  27. Pablo

    Except for a few miss-steps, like nuclear weapons and nerve gas, science has provided mankind with many beneficial and interesting discoveries. Thank goodness for scientist. They stand high above the rest of humanity, which includes a large percentage of morons unfortunately.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I think the jury is still out on GMO produce and it's beginning to appear as if neonictinoids are right up there with DDT on the list of really dumb ideas.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • flak

      ive met quite a few scientists who are morons. and im sorry to tell you but scientists a only "uncoverers" of that which has already existed. why dont you hold such high esteem for musicians or artists, etc.

      April 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  28. retwqaas

    Awesome science happened im so excited to see all the pictures of this.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  29. Johnny 5

    Great discovery! science is leading the way.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • JMorcan

      The site wasn't discovered by scientists. It remains to be seen whether scientific study of the bones will be more beneficial to mankind than if the natives simply used them for soup.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
      • CosmicC

        I'm not sure what you mean about soup. If you're referring to any people who were around when this oliphaunt kicked the bucket, I'm sure the volcanic ash did them in as well. If you're referring to those still around today, I'm thinking that there's no organics left, just the minerals the bones and teeth were composed of and even these may be partially permineralized (original material replaced as part of fossilization). I'm sure the only value they'd have in soup today would be the same as the stone in stone soup.

        April 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  30. sfg

    We are living now in the Holocene, it hasn't ended.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  31. Sidewinder

    Carl Rove sighting.

    April 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Cris

      Karl roving around trying to take out a Palin-tologist or two.

      April 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  32. bostontola

    Cool. Applying this and new technology yet to be developed will accelerate our understanding of life on earth and how it developed and evolved. Thanks to these scientists and engineers that are making this happen. When I think of how excited I got as a child about dinosaurs and other extinct animals based on so much less information than we have today, I am excited for my kids.

    April 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm |


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