In 2013, Dr. Matthew Peros received a research grant from the National Geographic Society’s Waitt Foundation for his project entitled Prehistoric extinct mammal and human remains from a subaquatic cave in Cuba: a pilot project linking archeology, paleontology, and the ancient environment. Dr. Peros and his colleague, Mr. Joao Martínez Lopez of the National Museum of Natural History of Cuba’s Department of Paleogeography and Paleontology, have since been collaborating to answer some very important questions: how fast has climate changed in the past? What role did abrupt climate change have in the extinction of certain animals? Could human activities have also played a part?
The recent discovery made by underwater cave divers of the bone remains of at least seven extinct sloths and a human skull in Cueva La Margarita, located near Varadero, Cuba, can shed some light on these questions. The research undertaken by Dr. Matthew Peros and his colleagues will help us better understand the nature of prehistoric extinctions and the degree to which humans caused them.
More information about this exciting research project is given in this interview with Dr. Peros, published by the National Geographic Society, accompanied by a short documentary video that showcases breathtaking images of underwater cave exploration and Dr. Peros’ reflections on the impact of this important discovery.
Photo credit: Jill Heinerth (http://www.intotheplanet.com/) and Dr. Kenny Broad (University of Miami).