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Dominique Rissolo PhD FN'13, Diving for the Bones of the Ice Age

Dr. Dominique Rissolo, assistant research scientist with the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego reports on the exciting November field season at Hoyo Negro. 

These days, Hoyo Negro is a morbid treasure trove for paleontologists: a collection of partially fossilized, Ice Age-era skeletons belonging to saber-tooth cats, several species of ground sloths, an extinct species of bear and Naia, a young woman who lived and died approximately 13,000 years ago. Dominique Rissolo, a research scientist and archaeologist with UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute (QI), and colleagues have studied their bones for the past eight years to learn more about the region’s history.

“The abundance, diversity, and integrity of Late Pleistocene fossils from Hoyo Negro give us a unique opportunity to reconstruct animal and plant life on the Yucatán Peninsula at the end of the last Ice Age,” said Rissolo. In November 2019, a group of researchers including Rissolo and a cave diving team led by Alberto Nava set out to recover the giant ground sloth’s pelvis through a meticulously planned expedition. Rising sea levels had flooded the cave system at the end of the last Ice Age, making the pelvis’ retrieval impossible for all but the most experienced divers. Over the course of the expedition, the team would have to work across international lines and unite talents in paleontology, 3D-modeling, engineering and virtual reality to safely bring this fragment of history back to light.

Beto Nava and Alex Alvarez, Photo by Explorers Club Fellow, Sam Meacham.

Dominique Rissolo and Scripps Institution of Oceanography grad student, Sho Kodera, examining Pleistocene bear bones just recovered from Hoyo Negro.

Photo by Explorers Club Fellow, Sam Meacham.

Link to the story

Also from Dominique see the link below to his recent lecture for The Houston Society of AIA about what we do. So, take a deep dive into the Ice Age as Dr. Dominique Rissolo introduces exciting new interdisciplinary scientific advances that reveal previously elusive information about the ancient world, allowing archaeologists to explore sites that were once inaccessible.

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