Quantcast

Giant Sloth Fossils, Mayan Relics Discovered in World's Largest Flooded Cave

Popular

Archaeologists exploring the world's largest flooded cave—discovered last month just outside of Tulum, Mexico—have found an impressive treasure trove of relics.

The vast, 216-mile cave actually connects two of the largest flooded cave systems in the world, the 164-mile-long Sistema Sac Actun and the 52-mile-long Dos Ojos system. Aside from an extensive reserve of freshwater and rich biodiversity, the cave also contains an 11-mile-long, 66-food-deep cavern dubbed "the mother of all cenotes." Cenotes are natural pits, or underwater sinkholes, that are often holy sites in ancient Mayan culture.


Since its discovery, the cave explorers have uncovered an elaborate shrine dedicated to the Mayan god of commerce with a staircase accessed through a sinkhole in the middle of the jungle, AFP reported.

They also found human remains dating back at least 9,000 years, and the bones of extinct animals such as giant sloths, bears and gomphotheres—an ancient elephant-like animal—that roamed Earth during the last Ice Age (the Pleistocene period).

According to Mexico's National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), water levels in the region rose 100 meters (330 feet) at the end of the Ice Age, flooding the cave system and leading to "ideal conditions for the preservation of the remains of extinct megafauna from the Pleistocene."

"It is very unlikely that there is another site in the world with these characteristics. There is an impressive amount of archaeological artifacts inside, and the level of preservation is also impressive," said De Anda, a researcher at INAH.

"I think it's overwhelming. Without a doubt it's the most important underwater archaeological site in the world," said Guillermo de Anda who is also director of the Gran Acuifero Maya, a project dedicated to the study and preservation of the subterranean waters of the Yucatan peninsula.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

With well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage. An economist from the University of Michigan Energy Institute says that is likely to change. Maskot / Getty Images

In 2018, there were about 5 million electric cars on the road globally. It sounds like a large number, but with well over a billion cars worldwide, electric vehicles are still only a small percentage.

Read More
Nestlé is accelerating its efforts to bring functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions to the market and to address the global challenge of plastic packaging waste. Nestlé / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, said it will invest up to $2 billion to address the plastic waste crisis that it is largely responsible for.

Read More
Sponsored
Determining the effects of media on people's lives requires knowledge of what people are actually seeing and doing on those screens. Vertigo3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Byron Reeves, Nilam Ram and Thomas N. Robinson

There's a lot of talk about digital media. Increasing screen time has created worries about media's impacts on democracy, addiction, depression, relationships, learning, health, privacy and much more. The effects are frequently assumed to be huge, even apocalyptic.

Read More
Indigenous people of various ethnic groups protest calling for demarcation of lands during the closing of the 'Red January - Indigenous Blood', in Paulista Avenue, in São Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 31, 2019. Cris Faga / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Rarely has something so precious fallen into such unsafe hands. Since Jair Bolsonaro took the Brazilian presidency in 2019, the Amazon, which makes up 10 percent of our planet's biodiversity and absorbs an estimated 5 percent of global carbon emissions, has been hit with a record number of fires and unprecedented deforestation.

Read More
Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, Washington on May 12, 2017. GLENN CHAPMAN / AFP via Getty Images

Microsoft announced ambitious new plans to become carbon negative by 2030 and then go one step further and remove by 2050 all the carbon it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975, according to a company press release.

Read More