A paleontologist from the San Diego Natural History Museum found Ice Age bison fossil bones, in early April where crew workers were working on freeway improvements.
According to the San Diego Natural History Museum, the fossils were found at the junction of State Route 76 and Interstate 15, the highway construction site for the State Route 76 East Project near Pala Mesa in the North County.
The Ice Age bison has been extinct for 20,000 years and is the cousin of the Plains bison, though it was a solitary animal and lived in coastal woodlands across North America, museum officials said.
This recent discovery is the most complete set of bison fossils ever found in San Diego County, said Thomas Demere, curator for the museum’s paleontology department.
“This is a time capsule that was preserved for at least one hundred thousand years until just last month,” Demere said during a press conference Monday to unveil the fossils at the Balboa Park museum. “It’s just as exciting as Christmas morning to us to see what’s inside.”
Officials unveiled the bison’s skull, lower back and hips, which were encased in a protective plaster.
Adults of the discovered bison species stood up to eight feet tall at the shoulders, measured about 15 feet from tail to nose and weighed up to two tons, according to the museum, which added the animal found in North County is believed to have been a female.
Hallie Johnson, marketing and public relations manager for the San Diego Natural History Museum adds, “I’d be surprised if there weren’t fossils under Horton Plaza, it’s just a matter of if they’ve ever been discovered.”
For those that worry about this fossil discovery delaying the road construction, it won’t. Caltrans officials said last month’s discovery has not delayed the widening of the interchange at Route 76 and I-15. It’s expected to be completed by late summer or early fall, agency officials said.
Fossil of Ice-Age bison discovered in San Diego County
Caltrans and the San Diego Natural History Museum unveiled on May 13, 2013, the fossil of an Ice-Age bison recently discovered at a highway construction site on the State Route 76 East Project near the community of Pala Mesa in North San Diego County. This is the first fossilized bison found in southern California.
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