Published April 10, 2013
Picture a 30-year-old male, wandering the wilderness alone, far from his friends, seeking love. Let's call him Manny.
Picture him trudging from lake to lake in the Mexican mountains, having climbed nearly half a mile from his pals into the hills to the picturesque watering holes, in search of a mate.
Now flash forward some 12,000 years to modern day Mexico City, where residents of the suburb of Milpa Alto recently stumbled across the most complete mammoth skeleton ever found in the country, the National Institute of Anthropology and History announced Monday.
Manny's journey was finally over.
Archaeologists in the borough were digging through volcanic ash from an eruption thousands of years ago when by chance residents of the area discovered part of the skull, mandibular branch, ribs and vertebrae, part of the forelegs and the scapular of Mammuthus Columbi.
It was the first time mammoths had been recorded in the country’s capital, said Joaquin Arroyo, Quaternary mammalian fauna specialist.
Mammoth remains have been discovered at various points in Mexico, in areas near lakes that could have been where herds congregated. But none were ever seen in areas as high as this one, which sits a mile and a half above sea level. Mammoths were believed to separate from the pack when looking for a mate, Arroyo said.
"It may be the case with this mammoth, found walking alone in a place so high on a slope away from the lakes," he said.
Following three weeks of excavation, archaeologists have found part of the skull, mandibular branch, some ribs and vertebrae, part of the front legs and shoulder blades, representing approximately 35 percent of the young adult mammal's bones. He died at around 30 years old.
Mammuthus Columbi reached 16 feet high and weighed about 10 tons, while its defenses, which people wrongly identified as tusks, measuring about 10 feet long. Unlike Manny's lumbering namesake from the movie Ice Age, the mammoth was bald as an elephant.
Research is being conducted jointly by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the Institute of Anthropological Research (IIA) of the UNAM, with the support of Milpa Alta.