Fossils from extinct animals from the last Ice Age as well as human remains have been discovered in an underwater cave that date back to the Late Pleistocene period. The underwater cave where they were discovered is called Hoyo Negro which is located in Quintana Roo in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The Hoyo Negro (or “black hole”) pit is in the shape of a bell and had trapped numerous animals that were travelling through the cave many years ago.
The remains of a short-faced bear (Arctotherium wingei) that weighed approximately 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and ancient wolf-like species (Protocyon troglodyteswere) who were thought to have only lived in South America at that time appeared to have migrated north through Panama to central Mexico. Their ancestors had previously migrated from North America to South America, but these new discoveries indicate that the species were migrating back up north and that they lived in Central America at the same time.
Palaeontologists from East Tennessee State University wrote in the journal Biology Letters, “This discovery expands the distribution of these carnivorans greater than 2,000 kilometers outside South America.”
The remains of other mammals that were discovered on the cave floor include cougars, sabre-toothed cats, and gomphotheres (an extinct elephant-like species).
In addition to the animals, an almost complete skeleton of a 12,000-year-old man was discovered in the cave. It is believed that he must have fell to his death inside of the cave. These findings suggest that humans and wildlife both inhabited that area at the same time.
In the Pleistocene era, the water levels were much lower, so the now-underwater cave where the remains were discovered was once above ground.
Click here to see pictures of the discovery.
This isn’t the first time that a human skeleton in that area has made headlines. Back in 2007, the remains of a teenage girl from 13,000 years ago was discovered in that exact same cave. It was said to be one of the oldest genetically intact human skeletons that had ever been discovered in the Western Hemisphere. It is believed that she also must have fallen to her death while exploring the dark cave.
Additionally, researchers determined that humans from the Ice Age period who traveled to the Americas from Siberia to Alaska by a land bridge that connected the countries began the modern Native American populations. It was previously believed that later humans gave rise to the Native Americans.