During the analysis of animal bones from the coastal Maya site of Xcambo,
Yucatan, Mexico, I came upon fragments of a maxilla which couldn't be
identified as they do not resemble anything in our comparative collection at
the university or in the handbooks I have at hand.
The maxilla consist of a prominent and strong canine with a nearly round
cross section having a strong root and no longitudinal channel along the
cusp. There is no diastema and the first premolar (which isn't preserved)
had only one prominent root. Also there are two equally sized premolars with
two roots each and a nearly rectangular or oval occlusal view -only the 3rd
premolar is present but quite abraded, apparently it had one cusp. The
entire enamel surface of all the teeth is rough, resembling what could be
described as little "pores" less than a 1/4 millimeter or so, the remaining
cusp of the premolar is covered with little parallel longitudinal striations
as well. Also the bony surface of the maxilla is quite porous, but with the
pores less "densely packed" as on the enamel. The measurements are: canine:
46+ mm long, 12 mm diameter; base of crown from 3rd. premolar 16 mm long.
According to the data and comparisons, the maxilla is neither from Canidae,
Felidae, Ursidae, Tapiridae or Trichechidae, nor, of course, Tayassuidae or
any other artiodactyl of the area.
Together with the maxilla there was also a radius found, similar to the ones
from seals, of 101+ mm long and the proximal epiphysis with a greatest width
of 32 mm. Regarding this, I would like to ask if anyone knows where to find
osteological references, especially regarding the teeth and fore limb
structure, of the extinct West Indian Seal (Monachus tropicalis) or similar
species (perhaps in the internet?), because I suspect that these "unknown"
bones and teeth are perhaps from that species or a similar one. Although,
other seals seem to have a weaker teeth structure and the images I could
check didn't show such a "rough enamel pattern", so I don't know if I am
correct with my idea at all. Or maybe someone knows the described pattern
from other animals I didn't take into account, but which could occur at a
classic Maya site in southern Mexico?
Thank you very much for your help, a happy new year and looking forward to
meet you at the conference in Mexico City,
Christopher M. Götz, M.A.
Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas
Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, México
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