Utility Crew Stumbles on 1.4M-Year-Old Fossils

Sabre-tooth tiger, more unearthed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2010 11:57 AM CDT
A San Diego Natural History Museum paleontologist brushes away loose sand while cataloging the tail vertebrae of a 3-million-year-old whale fossil on in this Sept. 17, 2010 file photo.   (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo, Ken Bohn)

(Newser) – It didn’t take an archaeological expedition to unearth California’s oldest saber-toothed cat skeleton—it took a crew of construction workers, who were trying to break ground on a new substation for Riverside County. And that’s not all they found. The workers had stumbled upon a “treasure trove” of fossils that has paleontologists giddy, the LA Times reports.

So far, scientists have identified more than 1,450 specimens, including roughly 250 large vertebrates and some species never before discovered. “And we’re still counting,” says one paleontologist. “I've been working in this area for more than 40 years and have never seen concentrations of fossils like this.” California law requires companies to check construction sites for artifacts, but few expected much at this site. “If somebody had asked me ahead of time what they would encounter,” says one geologist, “I would have said ‘damn little.’”

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