Fossil Friday – camel vertebra

This is a cervical (neck) vertebra of a giant extinct camel called Camelops, which roamed southern California during the Pleistocene Epoch, perhaps less than 50,000 years ago. This particular specimen was discovered in 2002 near Murrieta, and is part of a fauna that also includes horses, mammoths, and giant ground sloths. The view shown here is the right lateral view of the vertebra, showing the ball-shaped structure and large prongs (prezygapophyses) that would have articulated with the next vertebra closer to the head.

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