The Paleontological Museum in Tocuila
(Museo Paleontológico en Tocuila) displays part of one of the richest deposits of Late Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....
fauna in America. International groups of archeologists discovered a large quantity of bones, mainly mammoth remains, estimated to be 11,000 to 12,000 years old, in an ancient river mouth that used to flow into the Lake Texcoco
Lake Texcoco was a natural lake formation within the Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs built the city of Tenochtitlan on an island in the lake. The Spaniards built Mexico City over Tenochtitlan...
The Paleontological Museum in Tocuila is located on the street 16 de Septiembre
between streets Morelos
and Benito Juárez
in the community of San Miguel Tocuila, Texcoco
Texcoco is a city and municipality located in the northeast portion of Mexico State, 25 km northeast of Mexico City. In the pre-Hispanic era, this was a major Aztec city on the shores of Lake Texcoco. After the Conquest, the city was initially the second most important after Mexico City,...
, Mexico State, Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...
The discovery of the site happened by accident in 1996. While Joaquín Ramírez was overseeing the excavation and construction of a cistern in the property of his brother Celso, he noticed that the dirt being removed was different from what he usually would find when digging in that area. Supposing it had to be bones, he informed his brother, who in turn, notified the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH; National Institute of Anthropology and History). Since then many studies have been conducted in order to explain the large concentration of bones in the area.
The Paleontological Museum in Tocuila was opened in November 2001, with the support of the property owners, the community, the University of Chapingo and the INAH.
Description of the Site
In the 28 square meters that have been explored, at a depth of three meters, the remains of seven mammoths were found together along with bones of ungulates, rabbits and aquatic animals. The results of most of the studies of the remains indicate an age of 10,000 to 12,000 years
The mode of accumulation of the remains is still uncertain. Nevertheless, there are several hypotheses that try to explain it. The first studies discussed the possibility that the mammoths were trapped by the flow of an ancient river, or a mudflow (Lahar
A lahar is a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. The term is a shortened version of "berlahar" which originated in the Javanese language of...
). Claus Siebe, Peter Schaaf and Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi propose the lahar originated from the Popocatépetl
Popocatépetl also known as "Popochowa" by the local population is an active volcano and, at , the second highest peak in Mexico after the Pico de Orizaba...
volcano, while the research of S. Gonzalez, D. Huddart, L. Morett-Alatorre, J. Arroyo-Cabrales and O.J. Polaco presents prove that the lahar was caused by the Nevado de Toluca
Nevado de Toluca is a large stratovolcano in central Mexico, located about west of Mexico City near the city of Toluca. It is generally cited as the fourth highest of Mexico's peaks, after Pico de Orizaba, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, although by some measurements, Sierra Negra is slightly...
J. Arroyo-Cabrales, E. Johnson and L. Morett analyzed the fractured bones found in the area, and concluded there was human activity engaged in bone quarrying efforts to produce cores and flakes for future use, similar to the bone technology also seen in North America in the Late Pleistocene to manufacture tools.