Digging hole for toilet cistern reveals ancient mammoth bones

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

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

The Morales family was manually excavating land to build a cistern when they found the paleontological remains at a depth of just over 7 feet.

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

Fabian Morales first thought he had reached a tepetate, a layer of paved ground in Mexican volcanic areas.

But it didn’t take him long to realize it might 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 wharf
Archaeologist Ana Laura Navarro Martinez (below), assigned to the INAH State of Mexico Center, photographs bones believed to be up to 10,000 years old found in April on private property in San Lorenzo Toxico, Mexico.
Centro INAH-EDOMEX/Zenger

It was determined that Morales had indeed come across a femur and jawbone of a proboscidean — each of the mammals that includes elephants and their extinct relatives — that could be a 10,000-year-old Colombian mammoth (Mammuthus columbic), according to experts.

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

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

“A proboscidean mandible and femur, 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 found in this locality.” registered in the State of Mexico.”

INAH archaeologist Ana Laura Navarro Martinez 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 megafauna specialists do the analysis when it will be determined whether they belong to a specimen of the Colombian mammoth species, which has already been recorded in the Toluca Valley.”

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

Mammoth bones found in Mexico wharf
Two roboscidean bones, a mandible and a femur, were identified by INAH researchers.
Centro INAH-EDOMEX/Zenger

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

“While … it would be necessary to determine whether such organic material – perhaps belonging to an old tree – is associated with the same geological layer as that of the bone remains, dating it could provide more precise information about the age of the ensemble.” .”

The femur and jaw are reportedly in good condition, except for the femoral head, which was struck by a pickaxe while excavating the space for the cistern.

Navarro Martinez hopes the examination of the bones “will allow us to collect the greatest amount of information at the site, with the aim of better understanding the megafauna that inhabited the Toluca Valley.”

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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