The AIFA Paleontological Museum offers a trip to the Pleistocene and will be an enclave for research

the Paleontological Museum of Santa Lucia ‘Quinametzin’, a unique place, is ready to receive visitors in the cultural pavilion of the new Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA), in the municipality of Zumpango, State of Mexico.

The new cultural place is the result of a collaboration between the Secretary of National Defense and the Ministry of Cultureindicated the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), in a press release.

The Paleontological Museum and its neighboring research center are designed as a national and international enclave for the study of paleontology.

The museum space, which will be open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes six permanent exhibition halls, a temporary exhibition hall, a thematic garden, rooms for digital interactions and 4K projections, spaces for children workshops and services such as a cafeteria, games for children and a gift shop.

The first permanent room details the President of the INAH Paleontology Council, Felisa Aguilar Arellano“tells the geological history of the Basin of Mexico, based on sedimentological, volcanological, and other evidence that helps us reconstruct the evolution of volcanism and climate over the past 30 million years.”

The scientific script, created by researchers from INAH, National School of Anthropology and History and some National Autonomous University of Mexicospecializing in paleontology, archeology and other sciences, and supplemented by the staff of the National Coordination of Museums and Exhibitions of the institute to include spaces adapted for the visually and hearing impaired, leads to the second room, dedicated to one Pleistocene species with the greatest presence in the territory now occupied by Mexico: the Colombian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi).

“We talked about the origin, evolution, migration and other characteristics of the Colombian mammoth. In this room you can see one of the most complete skeletons – with 96% of its bone remains – recovered during archaeological salvage work at the airport. In addition, a representation of a female with her calf is included, so that visitors can see and compare the size of these animals”.

Room 3 provides an overview of the fossil record of the Basin of Mexico, showing which flora and fauna organisms inhabited this region – made up of Mexico City, the State of Mexico and Hidalgo – more than 10,000 years ago. years, thanks to evidence published by other research projects, to which will be added what has been collected in the work of the AIFA.

Room 4 shows reproductions of human skulls and cultural material, such as arrowheads and other tools that allow us to reconstruct the history of the progressive settlement of the Basin of Mexico.

“Room 5 discusses the relationship between fossils and cultural imaginaries because, although we know today that these elements are evidence of past life, it is also important to recognize how society, in the past or even today has its own interpretation based on their knowledge.

Paleontologist Felisa Aguilar Arellano illustrates the above with the name of the museum: quinametzin, word Nahuatl which means “giant”, alluding to the idea that fossils in Mesoamerica were held in pre-Hispanic times, “when they found traces of megafauna, these large bones were believed to belong to the giants who created the world in previous ages”.

The last room gives a summary of the rescue work carried out in the AIFAwhich will end in the short term, although it is expected to continue given that the design of the terminal provided for reserve areas for future exploration, or in the face of the rescues that will accompany the expansion of the airport.

A relevant space of the museum will be the Thematic Garden, an immersive experience in which visitors can enter a room where, through 360-degree projections of visual and auditory elements, life-size reproductions of animals such as the American lion, mastodon or saber-toothed tiger, the landscape and the environment of 15,000 years ago will be reconstructed.

Pioneering research center in Mexico

The visit to the so-called ‘Land of the Giants’ includes the Paleontological Research Center, a space that will safeguard and study the fossil remains and associated information that have been recovered at AIFA, allowing the conservation of the paleontological heritage of the Upper Pleistocene . .

It has an area of ​​2,600 square meters and has laboratories, a restoration-conservation area and an osteotheque, which already houses more than 62,000 bone pieces found in archaeological excavations.

Each of the protected bone pieces has been recorded in the databases of the INAH and labeled with annotations on its typology, origin, date of excavation and the name of the archaeologist who intervened.

The center is equipped with 37 mobile shelving modules to optimize space, 191 fixed shelving modules for small-format parts and a mobile crane for handling large-format parts, with a load capacity of two tons ; in addition to air conditioning and humidity control systems.

The specialist concludes that this research center is destined to be a central area for the paleontology of the Late Pleistocene in our country, since it will allow to continue the analysis of the numerous paleontological and archaeological remains that have been discovered in the nearly 600 exploration points, located since November 5, 2019 and until today, on AIFA ground.

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