A wealth of Ice Age fossils were found under the hills of Carlsbad, Quarry Creek as the grading started for a construction site in the perimeter.
The treasure trove includes a giant Ice Age bison or an ancient bison (it is still unclear) and a Columbian mammoth, as well as turtles and fossilized horse skeletons. Analysis of the fossils is ongoing.
Hundreds of new houses will be developed on the premises of Carlsbad’s Quarry Creek. But when the grading started this summer, nothing could predict the treasure trove lying underground. The unearthed fossils date back from 200,000 years to 50,000 years.
The discovery is quite exciting. As Tom Deméré, who is the curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum, made the announcement of the valuable discoveries of Quarry Creek, he mentioned that all of the fossils are dated to belong to the Pleistocene Epoch.
The fossils hold a wealth information for a deeper insight in the ecology, environment and climate of the Ice Age. In Tom Deméré’s words:
“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 currently spans 60 acres of land located between El camino Real and College Boulevard. The initial plans were approved in 2013 and were set to be carried out by developer Corky McMillin Companies. Following, the plans were sold to Cornerstone Communities, a developer based in San Diego.
As the grading began, all regulations were complied with, including the requirement that a paleontologist is always present on the construction site when earth is removed. What looked like an unspectacular site at first slowly revealed a scientific treasure trove.
John Suster, who is the superintendent for the project in Quarry Creek, Carlsbad stated that he was indeed taken by surprise. Nonetheless, all work was halted as the scientific team was excavating the Ice Age fossils.
“I said ‘Take your time, this is kind of cool’”.
Albeit it is still unclear what type of bison the scientists are looking at, this fossil is the most complete found here, including both a partial skeleton and a skull. For now, once the process of taking the plaster off the fossil is completed, the San Diego Natural History Museum will be its home.
Photo Credits: SanDiegoTribune