At least 12 fossil fragments, including some from a mastodon, have been discovered at a new paleontological site in El Salvador.

"We dug down to the fossil-bearing strata...we have now reached some materials of great importance to paleontology," the head of the expedition, paleontologist Daniel Aguilar, told Efe.

Found up to now at the new site, where excavations began on Monday, are "12 fossil deposits," he said.

"There is one deposit with the remains of a horse, and farther down the bones of a mastodon are to be seen," he said, but added that it is "too soon to specify all the taxonomic information about the animals" found at the site, since they must still be brought up for analysis.

Excavations at the Nueva Apopa paleontological site in the municipality of Apopa, some 12 kilometers (7 1/2 miles) from San Salvador, were officially inaugurated on Friday.

"What we begin to find here has us giving more and more credence to the hypothesis of experts about the great fossil-bearing riches in the subsoil" at Apopa, Gustavo Milan, the Culture Secretariat's cultural heritage director, told Efe.

The first paleontological excavations in Apopa were in 2001 at the Tomayate River, 20 kilometers (12 1/2 miles) north of San Salvador, where some "2,000 pieces, both fragments and complete fossils," were turned up of some "23 different species," Aguilar said.

Among the species found were "mastodons, giant sloths...giant armadillos," he added. EFE