Unexpected Ice Age fossils were unearthed on the onset of a development project in Quarry Creek, Carlsbad.
A rewarding bounty for the paleontology team present on the building site includes fossilized bones from bison – it may be an ancient bison or a giant Ice Age one, but it remains to be determined, as well as the fossilized remains of horses, turtles and a Colombian mammoth, larger than a woolly mammoth would have been.
According to Tom Deméré, the paleontologist on site and curator of paleontology with the San Diego Natural History Museum, the fossils date to the Pleistocene Epoch, between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago. The era is also known as the last Ice Age.
The exciting discovery was prompted by the onset of the grading phase of the Quarry Creek area development project in Carlsbad. Nothing could have predicted what treasures are lying underneath the rolling hills here. As the permits to build require that a paleontologist is always on site in the case of large amounts of earth being displaced, this time it proved a worthy provision.
Tom Deméré, discussing the value of the fossils:
“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 development site in Quarry Creeks currently includes 60 acres of land that will host homes between College Boulevard and El Camino Real. The initial approval of the development project was sealed in 2013 for Corky McMillin Companies. Afterwards, the project was sold to San Diego’s Cornerstone Communities.
As the grading started in early summer, nobody had a clue of what could be unearthed here. Tom Deméré explained that it is not unusual for sediment earth such as the one found here to harbor such a treasure trove for paleontologists.
John Suster of Cornerstone Communities and superintendent of the development project agreed that nobody expected to witness such a discovery. When the first fossils were brought to light, all construction activities were halted and the scientific team took over, unearthing fossil by fossil.
“I said ‘Take your time, this is kind of cool’”,
said John Suster.
Plastered, all fossils have been transported for analysis at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Of them, the bison fossil is the most complete, with a skull and a partial skeleton providing plenty of material to work with.
Photo Credits: SputnikNews