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Unusual prehistoric predators found in flooded cave! - video

Divers exploring a flooded cave in the Yucatán Peninsula have discovered the bones of giant predators that inhabited the region during the last ice age. The discovery is extremely unique and the researchers see huge scientific potential in it. In Mexico, similar fossils have hardly survived to the present day. During the dive, the skeleton
Published: May 6, 2019 - 12:15
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:09
Unusual prehistoric predators found in flooded cave! – video

Divers exploring a flooded cave in the Yucatán Peninsula have discovered the bones of giant predators that inhabited the region during the last ice age. The discovery is extremely unique and the researchers see huge scientific potential in it. In Mexico, similar fossils have hardly survived to the present day.

During the dive, the skeleton of the short-footed bear Arctotherium wingei – a species that became extinct about 12,000 years ago and is the last representative of the genus Arctotherium – and the wolf-like Protocyon, the last representatives of which also became extinct about 12,000 years ago, were discovered. Due to the unfavourable climate in Mexico, few similar animal remains have survived to the present day.

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diver-with-protocyon-jaw-and-vertebra

In this particular case, the bones of the prehistoric beasts have survived intact for thousands of years. All because, after the individuals found died in a deep cave, the whole thing was soon flooded by water. As a result, their remains represent ideal research material that has been perfectly preserved and represent a real revolution in relation to previous findings.

Divers have found animal bones in the Hoyo Negro cave, a completely flooded well inside the legendary Sac Actun cave system located on the eastern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Hoyo Negro has so far been famous for the human remains found here. In 2007, archaeologists found the skull and skeleton of a teenage girl who lived around 12,000 to 13,000 years ago.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”All of the remains found here are superbly preserved, and that’s because at the end of the last ice age, rising sea levels flooded the caves of the Yucatan, transforming them into a very low-oxygen environment that favored bone preservation.” – said Blaine Schubert, the paleontologist conducting research here and executive director at the Center of Excellence in Paleontology at East Tennessee State University[/blockquote].

Since the first exploration successes at Hoyo Negro, divers have found even more bones. Scientists now have skeletons of one, possibly two wolf-like individuals and at least seven bears that date back to the late Pleistocene period.

Fossil-Finds-021018-18

Both of the species described were found extremely far from the places that scientists had previously thought to be their area of distribution. It was previously assumed that both species lived only in what is now South America. The latest discovery shows that the area was much more extensive and stretched a minimum of 2,000km north.

[blockquote style=”2″]”All previous data on this type of bear was only known from a few locations in South America and was based on only fragmentary remains. Now we have made a giant leap, to where we have several complete skeletons of this species and this found in an area where we didn’t even expect it to have occurred!” – explained Blaine Schubert enthusiastically[/blockquote].

The results of the ongoing research show how invaluable flooded caves are to the world of science as true time capsules. Especially in hot and humid regions, where prehistoric remains tend to deteriorate quickly. Who knows how many secrets and scientific sensations the flooded cave systems of the Yucatán Peninsula still hold?

Source: royalsocietypublishing.org
Photo: Roberto Chavez-Arce
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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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