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Ancient Elephants

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Mammoth molars - click to enlargeAn Ice Age fossil find near Elk Grove is now on display at the museum. Found by Edwin Bragado during the trenching of a gas line, bones of a Pleistocene mammoth were exposed. Fossil finds of this age are common in Southern California but considerably rarer here in the north state. Richard Hilton, geology professor and Museum chairman commented, “It’s one thing to talk about the Ice Age…it’s another to dig it up in your own back yard. It makes the Ice Age itself a reality for local people.”

Found in the sedimentary layers of the Riverbank Formation, the fossil is believed to be between 200 and 400 thousand years old. Based on the size of its teeth, the animal appears to have been young, about the size of a modern day elephant and possible female.

Dave Maloney, paleontologist and former Sierra College student, credited Sacramento Municipal Utilities District with ensuring that the fossils were not destroyed during the trenching. SMUD paid for the excavation and the preparation of the bones for display.

Summer Trip Treasures

Fossil elephant teethThe recovery of two fossilized elephant teeth during the June 17-25, 2006 Field Paleontology and Ancient Environments class was a highlight of the trip. Students were lead into the desolate terrain of eastern Oregon and western Idaho in search of fossil vertebrate bones.

Trip leader and professor of geology Dick Hilton, and student George Miller were the finders of these impressive 7 million year old Drewsey formation treasures from Oregon. The mastodon molars are now on display in the Ancient Elephant case.

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