“Hoyo Negro is a more than 100-foot-deep, bell-shaped, water-filled void about the size of a professional basketball arena deep inside a drowned cave system,” researchers say.
Like nearby caves in Pleistocene times, Hoyo Negro was accessible only via sinkhole; the fossils found inside are from people and animals that fell in and were trapped. Then, starting about 10,000 years ago, nearby glaciers melted and filled the caves with water. In addition to the near-complete human skeleton, the researchers found the remains of 26 large mammals, including sabertooths and elephant-like animals called gomphotheres.
The nearly-intact skeleton was that of a small female about 15 or 16 years old that the dive team named “Naia.” Based on radiocarbon dating of tooth enamel and analyses of mineral deposits on her bones, the researchers estimate her remains to be at least 12,000 years old.
Source: Journal of Science