A residential project aimed at building more than 600 homes in Carlsbad, Calif., was put on hold since construction workers found a fossil cemetery while digging some of the buildings’ foundations.
Paleontologists are overexcited with the new findings, though they are used to unearthing rare fossils within the state’s limits. Previous excavations had revealed traces of giant scallops, 40-foot-long sharks, and even an intact whale skeleton in a Silicon Valley site where 500 more fossils were unearthed during a construction project.
But in July, the fossil remains were found in a different location, off State Route 78. Construction was temporarily halted and scientists were asked to begin excavating. The scientific digs are expected to last for at least two more months. So far, in California more then 500 different types of fossils were unearthed during routine excavation works.
Researchers found invertebrates including dinner-plate-sized scallops, vertebrates such as prehistoric sharks, and dozens of ancient plants. They also found animal tracks, dens, and other intriguing items in the process.
Tom Demere of San Diego Museum of Natural History explained that the newly found fossils dated back from the Ice Age. During the excavation, an ancient bison was found. It is the second bison unearthed in the county so far. The site also contained traces of mammoths, ancient horses, and turtles.
The halted construction project will resume next year and workers are expected to build 88 row homes in the first year. Scientist hope that the new findings may help them learn more about the region’s geological history, environment, and even natural climate shifts.
The fossils were spotted when construction workers at the site tried to remove large amounts of soil. According to the state law, a paleontologist needs to be present at the site when that happens.
John Suster, the paleontologist called to supervise the digs of Cornerstone’s project in Carlsbad was surprised by the discovery. He had to quickly call his colleagues, seal the site and begin their own excavations. As soon as the ground is clear on fossils, construction project is ready resume.
Paleontologists only found a skull and several bones from a giant bison but the finding is one of the rarest in the world. Scientists said that the fossil was one of the most complete animals unearthed in the Golden State. Ancient bisons were larger than modern-day bisons, scientists explained.
But California paleontologists found other rare species in their state. Recently they found a whale fossil in a resident’s backyard. The team needed help from the sherriff’s rescue team to relocate the fossil.
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