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Treasure Trove of Extinct Animal Species Found at the Bottom of a Sinkhole in Mexico

Some of the skeletons recovered from the bottom of the sinkhole date back more than 30,000 years. Two ancient human skeletons have also been recovered.

A team of experts from Mexico and the United state has discovered a treasure trove of skeletons at the bottom of a sinkhole called ‘Hoyo Negro’.

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I a paper published by the experts in the journal Biology Letters, they detail the recover and study of various skeletons that were recovered from the bottom of the natural sinkhole and everything that has been learned from them after analysis.

A diver holds the skull of an ancestral bear dubbed the 'Protocyon troglodytes' inside the Hoyo Negro Sinkhole. Image Credit: Roberto Chavez-Arce.
A diver holds the skull of an ancestral bear dubbed the ‘Protocyon troglodytes’ inside the Hoyo Negro Sinkhole. Image Credit: Roberto Chavez-Arce.

Located in the eastern part of Mexico’s stunning Yucatan Peninsula, the discovery of the sinkhole can be traced back to 2007 when researchers found Hoyo Negro to be home to countless bones from ancient animals that lived in the region more than 30,000 years ago.

The natural sinkhole was not always filled with water.

Rescuers have revealed that thousands of years ago, Hoyo Negro was completely dry, and had a massive opening through which countless unsuspecting animals fell more than 200 feet to their death.

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Early Humans

Since that time, as the Earth cooled down and heated up again, melting glaciers begun filling the cave with water, eventually helping preserve the skeletal remains.

Now, in the new study, the researchers detail the discovery of a human skeleton among the animal bones, beleived to date back around 12,000 years.

This suggests that at that time, humans inhabited the region.

In 2007, reachers also recovered a human skeleton from the cave dating back to around 13,000 years ago and considered one of the oldest human skeletons found to date in the Western Hemisphere.

A diver carefully places the animal remains inside a container for later studies. Image Credit: Roberto Chavez-Arce.
A diver carefully places the animal remains inside a container for later studies. Image Credit: Roberto Chavez-Arce.

The study also details the recovery of the skeletal remains of an extinct, rare animal species called Protocyon troglodytes, which resembled a wolf, and a short-faced bear.

Scientists explained that the bear skeleton was of great importance as it belonged to a species that was considered among the largest ever to roam the surface of the planet.