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The name was apparently applied to one of the site's ancient reservoirs by hunters and travelers in the region.

These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century.

However, some archaeologists, such as David Webster, believe these figures to be far too high.

Major construction at Tikal was already taking place in the Late Preclassic period, first appearing around 400–300 BC, including the building of major pyramids and platforms, although the city was still dwarfed by sites further north such as El Mirador and Nakbe.

Jaguars, jaguarundis, and cougars are also said to roam in the park.

For centuries this city was completely covered under jungle.

One of these had elaborate paintings on the outer walls showing human figures against a scrollwork background, painted in yellow, black, pink and red.

At the end of the Late Preclassic, the Izapan style art and architecture from the Pacific Coast began to influence Tikal, as demonstrated by a broken sculpture from the acropolis and early murals at the city.

Conspicuous trees at the Tikal park include gigantic kapok (Ceiba pentandra) the sacred tree of the Maya; tropical cedar (Cedrela odorata), and Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla).