Precipitation changes during the Maya collapse reflected in cuticle morphology
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Cuticle analysis is used as a paleo-precipitation proxy in boreal and subtropical environments. Here, this method has been applied successfully in the tropical Maya Lowlands (Tabasco, Mexico). Multiple proxies have already indicated the presence of severe drought episodes during the time of the Maya Collapse. By applying cuticle analysis on fossil leaf material originating from the Maya Lowlands, a new independent proxy is used for investigating these drought episodes. Epidermal cell density of fossil leaf remains from the family Fabaceae are used to achieve a reconstruction of past precipitation changes between 620 and 1013 AD. The result of this research corresponds well with speleothem records from Yok Ballum Cave (Belize) and the sediment record of Lake Chichancanab (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico). By analysing the results, we conclude that climatic change in form of a decrease in precipitation was occurring during and after the demise of the Maya Civilisation.