In Mexico City, experts find bones of dozens of mammoths

In this undated photo released on May 21, 2020 by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), an archaeologist works at the site where bones of about 60 mammoths were discovered at the old Santa Lucia military airbase just north of Mexico City. (AP)
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Updated 23 May 2020

In Mexico City, experts find bones of dozens of mammoths

  • The excavations were conducted on the shores of an ancient lake, once known as Xaltocan and now disappeared

MEXICO CITY: Archaeologists have found the bones of about 60 mammoths at an airport under construction just north of Mexico City, near human-built ‘traps’ where more than a dozen mammoths were found last year.
Both discoveries reveal how appealing the area — once a shallow lake — was for the mammoths, and how erroneous was the classic vision of groups of fur-clad hunters with spears chasing mammoths across a plain. Humans may have been smarter — and mammoths clumsier — than people had previously thought.
For the momement, however, Mexican archaeologists are facing a surfeit of mammoths, almost too many to ever excavate.
“There are too many, there are hundreds,” said archaeologist Pedro Sánchez Nava, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
The institute began digging in three large but shallow areas in October, when work started to convert an old military air base into a civilian airport. In about six months, the bones of 60 of the huge, extinct herbivores were found, and Sánchez Nava said that pace — about 10 mammoths a month — may continue. The airport project is scheduled for completion in 2022, at which the dig will end.
The excavations were conducted on the shores of an ancient lake, once known as Xaltocan and now disappeared. The shallow lake apparently produced generous quantities of grasses and reeds, which attracted mammoths who often ate 150 klograms (330 pounds) of the stuff every day. “It was like paradise for them,” Sánchez Nava said.
The excavations are about 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from the mammoth pits found last year in the hamlet of San Antonio Xahuento, There, two human-built pits were dug about 15,000 years ago to trap mammoths, which apparently couldn’t clamber out of the 6-foot (2-meter) deep traps.
Those pits, found during excavations for a garbage dump, were filled with bones from at least 14 mammoths, and some of the animals appeared to have been butchered.
The institute said hunters may have chased mammoths into the traps. Remains of two other species that disappeared in the Americas — a horse and a camel — were also found in the sediments, at layers corresponding to 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
The newert excavations at the air base have not yet turned up any of the distinct cut marks that would suggest human butchering of the animals.
Sánchez Nava said the most recently discovered mammoths had apparently got stuck in the mud of the ancient lake and died, or were eaten by other animals.
But the bones will be subject to further study because Sánchez Nava said humans might have carved up the mammoths once they got stuck.
And, he said, ancient human could possibly have used the mud pools and flats around the lake shore as a sort of natural trap. “It’s possible they may have chased them into the mud,” he noted, adding, “They (ancient humans) had a very structured and organized division of labor” for getting mammoth meat.
The huge number of mammoths being discovered may also change scientists’ views of how frequently mammoth turned up on the dinner menu of our ancestors. “They used to think it was very chance, sporadic,” Sánchez Nava said of a mammoth meal. “In fact, it may have been part of their daily diet.”
Mammoth bones have always been so numerous in the area that the Aztecs, who ruled the Mexico Valley between 1325 and 1521, recorded having found the enormous bones; Sánchez Nava said the Aztecs interpreted them as proof of legends that giants had once populated the valley.
Sánchez Nava said the large numbers of remains will allow scientists to research how mammoths fed and whether they were already suffering genetic inbreeding or decline, which could have contributed — along with human hunting — to their extinction on the mainland about 10,000 years ago.
Sánchez Nava said nothing had been found that would require halting work on the airport project, in which the old military base is being converted into a civilian terminal.


Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

Updated 04 June 2020

Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

  • US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic
  • Elective medical procedures resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery

MIAMI: Quarantined Florida residents worried about their laughter lines and crows’ feet need frown no longer — Botox is back, and it’s being offered at a drive-through.
On May 4, the US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.
“The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,” Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient.
Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.
Arman Ohevshalom, 36, was enthusiastic as he waited in line with his wife in their car, although it was their first time receiving the injections.
“It’s very creative, and after seeing how they’re running it I feel just as comfortable as I would in the office,” he said.
Florida’s tattoo artists, however, are frustrated. Shuttered since March, they asking why they cannot open, too.
Botox injections are “kind of like tattooing, he’s injecting stuff into the skin,” said tattoo shop owner Chico Cortez. Florida is home to about 10,000 working tattoo artists, according to the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild.
An emailed statement from a Miami-Dade County spokesperson said Mayor Carlos Gimenez has yet to set a date for reopening tattoo shops. “He is working with industry members and the medical experts to come up with the best way to reopen safely,” it said.