Scientists Discover Mammoth Skeletons in Mexico

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. excavate / ˈɛks kəˌveɪt / (v) – to dig and uncover the ground, especially to look for things from the past

    The men will excavate the site because they believe that a city is buried underneath.

  2. herd / hɜrd / (n) – a large group of animals that live together

    The farmer takes his herd of cows to the field every morning to eat grass.

  3. oversee / ˌoʊ vərˈsi / (v) – to watch over or be in charge of something

    She has been overseeing her family’s business for many years.

  4. get in the way / gɛt ɪn ðə weɪ / (idiom) – to stop something from happening

    The organizers are making sure that nothing will get in the way of the event.

  5. paleontologist / ˌpeɪ li ənˈtɑl ə ʤɪst / (n) – a scientist who studies the remains of plants and animals that existed a long time ago

    The paleontologist explained how he discovered the dinosaur bones.


Read the text below.

Experts have unearthed skeletons of mammoths and other animals at the construction site for the new Santa Lucia airport in Mexico.

Lead archaeologist Rubén Manzanilla López said that his team has excavated the bones of around 200 mammoths at the site. He explained that herds of mammoths might have stayed at the site because of grasslands and lakes that existed there around 24,000 years ago.

According to Manzanilla López, the mammoths might have died naturally after being trapped in the mud of an ancient lake.

Currently, more excavations are being done, and mammoth remains are being found in multiple areas at the location. Captain Jesus Cantoral, an official who oversees efforts to preserve the mammoth remains, said that a lot of excavation sites still need to be further studied. He explained that the archaeological digs may slow down but not get in the way of the airport’s completion.

According to paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales, the site will be essential in testing hypotheses about mammoths’ mass extinction. Arroyo Cabrales said there has been an ongoing debate about whether the extinction was caused by climate change or the presence of humans, but he suggested that it might have been caused by a combination of both.

Ashley Leger, a scientist who was not involved in the study, noted that it’s very rare to find a large group of prehistoric animals that died of natural causes. She explained that there must have been specific conditions at the site that caused the animals to be buried rapidly in a low-oxygen environment.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it’s important to understand why mammoths became extinct? Why or why not?
• Do you think it’s important to preserve archaeological finds? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• With the discovery of mammoth remains, do you think the airport’s construction should be put on hold? Why or why not?
• Should construction of new structures be allowed on sites with archaeological finds? Why or why not?