Ice Age Fossils Unearthed at Construction Site

Ice Age fossils were found at a construction site in Carlsbad, CA, where hundreds of new homes are anticipated to be built. The fossils date to the Pleistocene Epoch, and are from 50,000 to 200,000 years old. The discovery includes bones of ancient mammoths, horses, turtles, and prehistoric bison.

Development Company Unearths Ice Age Fossils

In July, the San Diego-based developer, Cornerstone Communities, discovered Ice Age fossils while grading at the Quarry Creek development site in Carlsbad. Work was temporarily stopped in order for scientists to step in and begin excavating the 60-acre site.

John Suster, Cornerstone’s project superintendent didn’t view halt in construction as a complete set back. He said to scientists, “Take your time, this is kind of cool.”

“It’s a perfect example of how a mass grading operation can still be sensitive to historical and paleontological concerns.”

Cornerstone will continue to work closely with paleontologists during the grading of the site over the next two months. If possible ice age fossil are unearthed, work will stop to allow scientists to come into the area for investigation.

What We Can Learn from Ice Age Fossils

Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum was called in after the discovery was made.

“It’s really an exciting project in terms of geology and paleontology,” Deméré said. “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…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.”

Paleontologists are particularly interested in the discovery of an unusual bison fossil. The specimen includes a skull and partial skeleton, and is the most complete of the larger animals found at the project site.

“These are big animals, much larger than modern plains bison” Deméré said.

The bison has already been taken to the museum where it will be put on temporary display.


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Catherine Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, travel, space, and human interest. In addition to writing for Clapway, Catherine works with artists, leads street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.