Fossil Friday – sloth jaw

Yesterday was International Sloth Day (with sloth in this case being a noun, not an adjective)! That’s a nice day to celebrate at Western Science Center, because Diamond Valley Lake is the only locality in California with three different species of ground sloths.  Continue reading

Fossil Friday – horse jaw

While the majority  of Ice Age fossils in Riverside County are from the Diamond Valley Lake excavation, there are a few other productive Pleistocene sites. As with DVL, these have mostly been found during construction projects. The specimen shown above was recovered from The Promenade shopping mall in Temecula. Continue reading

The role of museums

dscn0334Inspired by Brian Switek’s recent article in Aeon, I was reminded of a post I wrote several years ago for “Updates from the Paleontology Lab” about different types of institutions that describe themselves with the term “museum”. What follows is an updated and edited version of that post.

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Fossil Friday – Max’s pelvis revisited

Mammut americanumWestern Science Center’s largest mastodon, Max (@MaxMastodon on Twitter) has been getting a lot of attention over the last year. Besides getting CT scans and figuring prominently in the “Mastodons of Unusual Size” project, this October marks 21 years since Max was discovered. Max is also one of the WSC’s major exhibits, and at our recent Science Under the Stars fundraiser we successfully raised funds to add new content to Max’s (and other) displays, discussing some of the new things we’ve learned. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – vole tooth

img_4280The rodent family Cricetidae is a diverse group that includes animals such as muskrats, pack rats, and hamsters. That diversity is reflected in the Diamond Valley Lake deposits, which contain several different cricetids including one of the most common members of the family, the voles. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – bison jaw fragments

Some of the species in the Diamond Valley Lake deposits are common enough that it’s actually possible to get some idea of intraspecies variability, including growth-based (ontogenetic) differences. Bison are not as common at DVL as horses, but there are still enough specimens to look a bit at age profiles.  Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Carnivore traces

In any large collection of vertebrate fossils, one of the more common specimen labels  will be “unidentified bone fragment”. But even an unidentified fragment can provide useful information.  Continue reading

Fossil Friday – seven bone fragments that built a museum


Tomorrow night the Western Science Center is holding the annual Science Under the Stars fundraiser. This year is a particularly special event, because the museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary; we opened to the public for the first time on October 15, 2006. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Xena the Mammoth’s femur

Mastodons were the most common proboscideans in Diamond Valley, but they weren’t the only ones there. Columbian mammoths (Mammuthus columbi) were also present, although in much smaller numbers. The most complete Columbian mammoth from DVL is Xena, whose partial skeleton is on permanent exhibit at the Western Science Center. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – dire wolf tooth

DSCN5601Today is National Dog Day, and while the day is primarily honoring domestic dogs (Canis familiaris, or Canis lupus familiars), it seems fitting to also recognize their wild ancestors and cousins. Continue reading