When excavating in Mexico City, it’s not uncommon to find uncommon things. The city is built on the ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochitlan, and that was built on top of even more ancient cultures before it. So when digging, you can be sure to find something. But at the Mexican capitol’s new airport development, construction workers found something they didn’t expect: two huge skulls, along with scattered ribs and limbs.
As surprising as this may sound, these are only two of seventy mammoth skulls found in Mexico in the last year alone. 10,000 years ago, the land was one filled with herd of the mysterious animals, attracted to the grasslands and waterways.
This isn’t the first time that Mexican mammoth skeletons have amazed. Stories tell of indigenous people unearthing the giant skeletons, and dazzling Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez. It’s said that in 1519, two Tlaxcalan kings showed a giant femur bone to Cortez and he believed that it was the bone of a giant. His scribe, Bernal Diaz del Castillo wrote, “we were sure there had been giants in this land.”
At the airport, it is suspected that the mammoths fell into a deep part of a muddy lake and were unable to escape, according to lead archaeologist Ruben Manzanilla. The mammoth, called a Columbian Mammoth, was different from its woolly cousin, but certainly lived up to its name. It’s estimated the mammoth found at the Mexico City Airport construction site was 20 tons—double the weight of a Tyrannosaurus Rex—and was 4 meters tall (approximately 14 feet).