Ice age fossils discovered in LA subway dig
While working on an extension project for LA Metro's Purple Line, workers have uncovered a treasure trove of fossils said to be older than the one's found in the La Brea Tar Pits.
The discovery has brought to light new information about California's prehistoric past. The fossil collection was found near the vicinity of the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits.
"Here on the Miracle Mile is where the best record of life from the last great ice age in the world is found," said Cogstone Resource Management Inc. laboratory director Kim Scott. In the shaft, she added, "you're walking along an ice age shoreline." Cogstone is a private company that specializes in history, archeology and paleontology with clients spanning both the private and public sectors.
The fossils found in the subway excavation site included sea lions, sand dollars and mollusks. Scientists believe that the Pacific Ocean used to include parts of modern day California and the fossilized marine animals found in the area were deposited before the shoreline receded.
"Adorable little sand dollars. Geoducks -- it's a cool water clam, which tells us the water is cold such as you'd see in northern California, Oregon, Washington, Puget Sound, actually," said Scott. "Clams and snails. We've also got Monterey Cypress cones, which tells us the climate here was much like what you'd see in Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula, today."
Workers started digging for the subway extension project April last year. After going through the debris cleared during the digging process, Scott found a variety of fossils from different time periods in LA's past.
"At the La Brea tar pits, all their fossils range from about 10,000 to 45,000 years old," Scott added. "The stuff we're finding here, we have found the older stuff which ranges from about 50,000 to 300,000 years old."
Due to the valuable find, the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now working closely with Cogstone to secure, unearth and preserve the fossils dug up by the workers. Aside from the fossils already discovered, archeologists say that there is a considerable possibility that more fossils will be found during the construction process.
"These are all going to get cleaned up to the point of preservation and identified. And then they're going to be transferred to the Natural History Museum of LA County," said Scott. "When and if we find La Brea-style deposits, that will go across the street to Rancho La Brea."