Ice Age mammoth fossils found at Carlsbad construction site

Ice Age era fossils of mammoth and bison were found by a construction crew during an excavation project in Carlsbad, California. The development plans have slowed to a crawl as scientists search for more fossils after this initial find. The excavation being performed is for a new home development site off State Route 78.

Tom Demere, the curator of paleontology at the San Diego Museum of Natural History, stated that the fossils were discovered in July and that there may be more at the site. Demere also said that the fossils date back up to 200,000 years ago. This time period is known as the Pleistoncene Epoch, or Ice Age.

A prehistoric bison was unearthed at the site, which makes it the second one ever discovered in San Diego County. Also found at the site were bones of mammoths, turtles, and even horses.

Demere goes on to add that, “It’s really an exciting project in terms of the geology and paleontology.” Demere also stated that fossils can reveal to scientists tremendous information like climate, environment, and even the ecology of the period. Studying the differences between the ecosystem back then, and our current one today, we can learn more on how climates change.

Quarry Creek development site covers about 60 acres of land. After the grading began over the summer, the bones began to be discovered. California requires a paleontologist on site when large projects like this are moving mass amounts of earth.

John Suster, the superintendent of the Cornerstone’s project in Carlsbad, said he was surprised to see the fossils but also found it quite intriguing. Work temporarily stopped to allow scientists to begin their excavation. The company is working closely with the paleontologists while grading, and will continue for another couple of months.

Cornerstone CEO, Ure Kretowicz, explained how the paleontologists move right in and block off the area where the fossil is. They make a plaster cast and remove the fossil, as the construction crew moves to grade on other areas in the site. After the fossils are removed work begins again where it left off.

The skull and partial skeleton of the bison that was discovered is one of the more rare finds. Authorities say that this bison was one of the more complete animals that were unearthed and found at the site. These giant bisons are larger than plains bison that we normally see. The scientists believe that it is either a giant bison or an antique bison.

Building construction for the Quarry Creek development is planned to begin next year. This will be the first of six developments and will be made up of 88  two-story row homes.