Fossil Friday – mammoth jaw

Most of the current collections growth at the Western Science Center comes in the form of mitigation projects, fossils and artifacts that are recovered during various construction projects. Most of the projects that have come to us are from Riverside County, but we’re increasingly starting to bring in material from other areas.

Earlier this week we received several Colombian mammoth bones from a Caltrans road project in Merced County, California. The fossils were recovered and beautifully prepared by PaleoResource Consultants. While it appears that all the bones are mammoth, they do not appear to all come from one individual.

One of the best-preserved elements is a lower jaw, shown above in dorsal view. The tooth in place is quite small, and is apparently either the fourth premolar or the first molar (I’m leaning toward the 4th premolar, but I need to examine it further to be sure). That makes this a very young animal; if the tooth is the 4th premolar it was probably only about 3 years old, and if it’s the 1st molar it would still only be about 13 years old. There are going to be lots of things to work on in this small but significant collection.

Thanks to Caltrans and PaleoResources Consultants for bring us this exciting specimen, and to Pat Holroyd at the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, who put us in touch with PaleoResources.

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