New echinoderm remains in the buried offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City
Between 1978 and 1982 the ruins of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan were exhumed a few meters northward from the central plaza (Zócalo) of Mexico City. The temple was the center of the Mexica’s ritual life and one of the most famous ceremonial buildings of its time (15th and 16th centuries). More than 200 offerings have been recovered in the temple and surrounding buildings. We identified vestiges of 14 species of echinoderms (mostly as disarticulated plates). These include six species of sea stars (Luidia superba, Astropecten regalis, Astropecten duplicatus, Phataria unifascialis, Nidorellia armata, Pentaceraster cumingi), one ophiuroid species (Ophiothrix rudis), two species of sea urchins (Eucidaris thouarsii, Echinometra vanbrunti), four species of sand dollars (Mellita quinquiesperforata, Mellita notabilis, Encope laevis, Clypeaster speciosus) and one species of sea biscuit (Meoma ventricosa grandis). They date back to the reigns of kings Axayacatl (AD 1469-1481), Tizoc (AD 1481-1486), Ahuitzotl (AD 1486-1502), and Motecuhzoma II (AD 1502-1520). Apparently the presence of echinoderms in the offerings is related to the realm of Tlaloc (god of rain and earth). It is believed this organisms, like other marine animals, were used by the priests, like other marine animals, to represent the aquatic underworld of Mesoamerican world-view. Rev. Biol. Trop. 65(Suppl. 1): S168-S179. Epub 2017 November 01.