Rare Fossil Found In California: Bison And Ice Mammoth Among Them

Rare fossils have been found at a construction site in Carlsbad, California located off Route 87. Workers at a new home development site unearthed a mammoth and a bison that are estimated to be anywhere between 50,000- 200,000-years-old. The rare fossil find has been enough to modify the development plans while paleontologists excavate the area in hopes of finding more of the rare fossils. The 63-acre site is intended to be turned into six developments, with the first planned to contain 88 two-story row homes. The development will include 636 apartments and condominiums in total.

California has been the site of many rare fossils that have been found. In 2011, workers building a dam found an incredible 529 types of rare fossils, including nine whale skeletons, scallops, animal tracks, and even pine cones, all in fossil form. The find was estimated to be 20 million-years-old. While the area those fossils were found is now a desert, it was an ocean area 20 million years ago. In fact, there’s been so many rare fossil finds in California that any large construction operation has to also have a paleontologist on site. It’s not just construction workers that find a rare fossil, either: one of the most complete blue whale fossils was found in a backyard. The fossils of baleen using mammals are so rare that only 20 have been found, and that whale is among them. (Baleen is a soft tissue and is very unlikely to become fossilized, making those rare finds all the more remarkable.) Fossils have even been found in downtown San Diego.

The rare ice mammoth fossil found may be the most significant; it is only the second mammoth fossil found in the San Diego County region. The type of bison unearthed is not currently known from the fossil of a skull and partial skeleton that was found. (It’s not similar to the modern plains bison and is much larger.) Turtles and horses were also found at the site. The discovery is being analyzed by scientists in hope that the rare fossils will tell more about the ecology, weather, and climate in the region at the time they lived.

For those who are wondering how the rare fossil find will affect the building of the homes planned for the region, don’t fear: construction is still expected to begin next year. Until then, the construction workers are willing to wait to see what other rare fossils might be found.

[Image from KRON/AP via Cornerstone Communities]