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Video: Prehistoric bears found in underwater cave in Mexico

Thursday 19 Jan 2012 3:38 p.m.

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In the dark depths of an underwater cave in eastern Mexico, archaeologists uncovered the ancient remains of four prehistoric bears in the Yucatan Peninsula. Officials believe they could date back to the ice age.

Investigators from Mexico City's National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and officials at the National Institute of Anthropology (INAH) uncovered the precious 11,000-year-old skulls in the ancient sinkhole, or cenote, in 2011.

Well-known as a diverse and rich site for archaeologists, the ancient Mayan stamping ground has provided officials with a variety of prized historical finds in recent years.

"This area is very big and deep and we have not finished exploring," said archaeological, Guillermo de Anda Alanis.

A total of four skulls were found some 50 metres deep within the cenote, which had provided ideal conditions for the preservation of the remains for thousands of years.

"We have found a large quantity of [bear] remains," said Anda Alanis. "Some of them are clearly of Mayan origin."

Water level markings in the underwater cave suggests the cenote was not filled with water during the bear's lifetime, providing crucial insights into the effects of climate change and the end of the ice age for scientists.

With further tests expected at the site, officials are hopeful the ancient region will reveal further secrets.

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3 News / Reuters

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