Deposit of bones discovered around a tiny Bolivian village

Padilla, Bolivia
Near the town of Padilla, in central Bolivia, children play in a river beside the shell of an ancient glyptodont which sticks out of the ground nearby.
The earth around the tiny settlement is so rich with fossils that they have begun unearthing themselves after wind and rain eroded soil in the area. Around 70 archaeological sites have been identified so far, but with little government funding it has been left up to university teams and amateurs to ensure the treasures are preserved. Among the fossilised remains are the bones of mastodons - the ancestors of modern-day elephants - glyptodonts - a huge relative of the armadillo - and giant sloths.
Juan Carlos Espada, an IT teacher from a nearby primary school, has been extracting the remains, storing them in newspaper, then sticking them back together with glue.
Despite having no experience in paleontology, he has managed to gather enough fossils together to found a museum, helped by a grant from the local tourist board. Among his collection are teeth, bones, jaws and small invertebrates that he has unearthed.
The area around Padilla is just one of the many sites in the Chuquisaca province of Bolivia where bones have been discovered.
Medina Sword, a researcher, says the province could be home to ‘one of the biggest fossil deposits in South America, by the extent of the area and the variety of species that have been found.’
Remains discovered stretch from the Pleistocene epoch of the Cenozoic era, which began about 65 million years ago, to the last ice age roughly 12,000 years ago.
Digging his fingers into the ground around two miles outside of Padilla, Mr Sword quickly begins pulling teeth out of the earth.
 ‘This one is a molar and appears to be from a baby mastodon. This other tooth seems to be from a different animal, what could it be?’ he asks.
Fossils are often unearthed by children playing in the area who take them without realising their importance, or by poor locals who attempt to sell them.
In nearby Sucre, researchers found 460 trails containing more than 6,000 dinosaur footprints.
Many of the prints date from the Cretaceous period of the the Paleozoic era, which took place around 145 and 65 million years ago.
Scientists attempted to have the find declared as a Unesco World Heritage Site, but the request was declined due to a lack of planning around preservation.
However, as media attention on the areas intensifies, the politicians are beginning to understand the importance of the finds, and are working to preserve them.
Juan José Padilla, the secretary of culture and tourism for Chuquisaca, said: ‘We need to implement policies for the preservation and promotion of these issues in the municipalities, the departmental government and the central government.’

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