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Mexico’s new international airport to be built over mammoth remains
INAH archeologists work to recover the remains of a mammoth in the Tultepec municipality of the State of Mexico on May 17, 2016 - Photo: File photo/CUARTOSCURO.COM

Mexico’s new international airport to be built over mammoth remains

05/06/2019
12:50
Pedro Villa y Caña
Mexico City
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On April 24, INAH director Diego Prieto informed that there were numerous archeological remains in the Santa Lucía Air Base

Saber-toothed tiger fangs, mammoth molars and bones, fish, and camelid remains are only a few parts of the prehistoric megafauna dating back to at least 23 thousand years ago and found at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base, where Mexico’s new government led by leftist veteran Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to build its Felipe Ángeles International Airport.

A series of reports concerning excavations conducted in the area by paleontologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) obtained through the Transparency Law have indicated that there have been scientific discoveries in the area for at least 60 years.

The findings

According to a report called “Rescue of Pleistocene Fauna: Santa Lucía III, Edomex,” and a study on “Interpretations of Prehistory in the Northwest Region of the Mexico Basin,” a series of discoveries and explorations were made at the Santa Lucía Air Base from 1956 to 1992.

The document indicates that the remains of three mammoths were found in 1956 at the Los Reyes Acozac village, around 800 meters north of Santa Lucía, as well as other animal bones and two lithic flakes (man-carved rocks).

This was only the first exploration and digging conducted near the military air base.

During an exploration called Santa Lucía I, conducted in 1976, paleontologists found mammoth remains, two saber-toothed tiger teeth, camelid bones, fish remains, and an obsidian lithic flake.

The studies conducted by the INAH indicated that the remains could date back to between 23,900 and 26,300 years ago.

In October 1980, during the Santa Lucía II exploration works, specialists found the bones of three mammoths and a camelid, as well as an andesite lithic flake and another made of obsidian.

The full document indicates that the place of the discovery is located within the air base, “about one kilometer away from the access gate.” Furthermore, the archeological site is located in an area that was once part of the Xaltocan lake, which later became farm lands owned by the Jesuit hacienda of Santa Lucía in colonial times.

Moreover, a report called Santa Lucía III indicated that on February 27, 1992, while excavation works were performed for the construction of a housing unit in the air base, members of the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) reported to INAH that they had found remains of prehistoric animals while digging with a mechanical shovel.

The report shows that SEDENA found a mammoth’s tooth, some ribs, and fragmented molars. A group of specialists later found a total of 69 bone parts of the animal.

More remains found in surrounding areas

The report issued by the National Institute of Anthropology and History confirmed that more paleontological remains had been found in municipalities such as Coacalco, Nextlalpan, Ecatepec, and Ixtapan-Tepexpan, near the military air base.

On April 24, INAH director Diego Prieto informed that there were numerous archeological remains in the Santa Lucía Air Base, as well as in other areas of the national territory.

INAH authorities are now working to scout the land where the Felipe Ángeles airport will be built.
 

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