A spider monkey’s remains tell a story of ancient diplomacy in the Americas

A sacrificed spider monkey is shedding new light on an ancient Mesoamerican relationship. 

The remains of a 1,700-year-old monkey found in the ancient city of Teotihuacan outside modern-day Mexico City suggest the primate was a diplomatic gift from the Maya. The find is the earliest evidence of a primate held in captivity in the Americas, researchers report November 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Unearthed in 2018 at the base of a pyramid in Teotihuacan, the monkey’s skeleton lay beside the corpses of other animals — including an eagle and several rattlesnakes — in an area of the city where visiting Maya elites may have resided.

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