Ice Age fossils were discovered at a residential construction site in Carlsbad, California, earlier this summer, and paleontologists have so far uncovered the remains of mammoths, horses, turtles, and a bison.
The Los Angeles Times reported
that the prehistoric bison in particular is only the second one ever found in San Diego County.
"It's really an exciting project in terms of the geology and paleontology," said Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
"The fossils have the potential to tell us a great deal about the climate, the environment, the ecology of that time when they were living. 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 construction site, approved for a residential subdivision of more than 600 units, is roughly 60 acres, located near the historic El Camino Real road.
California requires all developers of a certain size to have a paleontologist on site, and John Suster, superintendent of the construction project, said he was surprised to find fossils when they began moving earth in July.
"I said, 'Take your time, this is kind of cool,'" Suster said. "It's just rolling hills, nothing special. I don't think there's any way you could have known."
When a construction crew comes across a possible fossil, they cordon that area off and allow the paleontologists to set to work.
So far, the researchers are particularly excited about the bison fossil, a skull and partial skeleton. The exact species has not yet been determined, but it's most likely a giant bison or an antique bison from the Pleistocene Epoch, 50,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Three years ago, paleontologists found a giant bison at a Caltrans construction site near Pala. That bison, a giant bison, likely measured eight feet tall at the shoulders, and 15 feet in length.
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