Construction workers unearth a trove of fossils outside San Diego.
Workers were busy grading and building a future subdivision when they unearthed something rather unexpected: bones of a number of prehistoric creatures.
So far, ancient bison, mammoths, horses and turtles have all been found at the site, which is in Carlsbad, California. The bison in particular, of which a skull and partial skeleton was found, is notable as it is only the second discovered in San Diego County.
The animal was huge compared to the bison of today.
“These are big animals, much larger than modern plains bison,” said San Diego Natural History Museum curator Tom Deméré.
The animal could have weighed upwards of 2,000 pounds.
The many discovered bones are believed to date back to between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, the Pleistocene Epoch.
While large construction projects in California are required to have a paleontologist on site, no one expected anything to be found at the 60-acre location known as Quarry Creek.
“It’s just rolling hills, nothing special,” John Suster of Cornerstone Communities, the ones working on the construction project told reporters. “I don’t think there’s any way you could have known.”
Fortunately for fossil fans, Cornerstone Communities is allowing paleontologists to study the site and remove any fossils found.
“It’s a perfect example of how a mass grading operation can still be sensitive to historical and paleontological concerns,” Kretowicz told reporters.
As new discoveries are made, work is being shifted temporarily to allow scientists to preserve the find.
“They do a (plaster) cast in place and then remove it,” said Cornerstone Community CEO Ure Kretowicz. “We stop everything or go grade another area on the site. Once they’re gone, we start up again.”
The land developers have found the discovery just as interesting as the scientists have.
“I said ‘Take your time, this is kind of cool,’” Suster told reporters.
It hasn’t been reported exactly what will be done with the fossils once excavation is completed, but the scientists are excited by what they might be able to learn from them.
“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.
Images via Facebook/Cornerstone Communities