Alongside construction crews racing to build the Mexican capital’s new airport, skulls and curving tusks of massive mammoths peek through the dirt as archaeologists dig up more and more bones belonging to the ice age’s most famous mammal.
The latest discoveries include two huge skulls, along with scattered ribs and limbs, found just inside the perimeter of where a new civilian airport is being built, about 30 miles (50km) north of downtown Mexico City.
To date, some 70 individual mammoths have been unearthed since late last year. Dating back more than 10,000 years, this part of Mexico once teemed with mammoth herds, drawn to the lush grasslands and lakes that dotted the landscape.
The hulking bones left behind spawned legends of giants that dazzled both indigenous civilizations and Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes.
Standing next to one partial skeleton, lead archeologist Ruben Manzanilla, explains that this spot likely would have been part of a meandering shoreline thick with mud on the edge of a lake formed at the end of the last ice age.
“When an animal this size fell here, it got stuck and couldn’t escape,” he said, as a convoy of construction trucks rumbled down a dusty road.