California Construction Site Discovery: Rare Ice Age Mammoth, Bison Found by Accident

Posted by Staff Reporter ( on Sep 08, 2015 06:04 AM EDT
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5 Million-Year-Old Whale Found in Landfillmore big
405522 02: Paleotologist David Alexander excavates the bones of a five- to seven-million-year-old baleen whale that he discovered in Prima Deshecha Landfill May 17, 2002 in San Juan Capistrano, CA. The 19 1/2 foot-long fossil skeleton includes the four-foot-long skull (L), spine, and at least one flipper. The whale died in the late Miocene era, sank to the ancient ocean bottom at a possible depth of 3000 feet, and was covered with mud. The mud became siltstone and the area uplifted to the current elevation of 404 feet above sea level. (Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

The construction of 88 two-storey row homes at Quarry Creek, Carlsbad, California was halted by scientists after construction workers accidentally found a fossil while grading the site where the new homes would be erected.

            John Suster, the superintendent of the Cornerstone's project in Carlsbad, said he was surprised to see the fossils but also found it quite intriguing. "Take your time, this is kind of cool," Suster said of the discovery.

            Many fossils that date back to the Pleistocene Epoch, more commonly known as the Ice Age, have already been discovered in recent times. But the most notable discovery is the skull and partial skeleton of a massive bison in this new area. These giant bisons are larger than plain bisons that we normally see. The scientists believe that it is either a giant bison or an antique bison.

            In a report by Nature World, Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum, said that it is an exciting project for geology and paleontology. "The fossils have the potential to tell us a great deal about the climate, the environment, (and) the ecology of that time when they were living," Deméré said. "They are direct connections with the past, an ancient ecosystem that was once common here. We can understand how climates can change by studying these ancient ecosystems," the curator stressed.

            Fossils from at least two Columbian mammoths were also discovered this summer. Columbian mammoths are a bit bigger than the more well-known wooly mammoths. They stand 13 feet tall at the shoulders and tip the scales at up to 10 tons.

            There were also fossils of ancient horses and turtles found.

According to the Market Business, Ure Kretowickz, the CEO of Cornerstone who is in-charge of the project, explained how the paleontologists intervened in the construction and blocked off the area where the fossil was discovered. They had made a plaster cast and removed the fossil, as the construction crew moved on to grade other areas in the site. After the fossils were removed, work began again where it left off.

            The construction for the houses will be resuming early next year.

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