Ice-Age Bison Fossil Found in San Diego County to be Unveiled

Officials from the San Diego Natural History Museum and Caltrans will soon unveil the rare fossil of an Ice-Age bison that were recently discovered in San Diego’s North County.

According to the San Diego Natural History Museum, the fossil were found at a highway construction site on the State Route 76 East Project near Pala Mesa in the North County.

Museum experts say it’s the first-ever fossilized bison found in Southern California. The bison is estimated to be roughly 200,000 years old.

On Monday, officials will unveil the Ice-Age fossil at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. The event will feature paleontologists at work, cleaning sediment from the fossil, as well as speakers from both Caltrans and the museum talking about their discovery.

Hallie Johnson, marketing and public relations manager for the San Diego Natural History Museum, says further details about the bison fossil will be released at that time.

NBC 7 asked Johnson about potential fossil findings in other parts of San Diego, such as the very active construction site at Horton Plaza mall in downtown San Diego clearing the way for the new Horton Plaza Park in 2014.

Johnson said the paleontology team at the San Diego Natural History Museum has not been contracted at the Horton Plaza Park project site to do a paleontological mitigation.

"I’d be surprised if there weren’t fossils under Horton Plaza, it’s just a matter of if they’ve ever been discovered," said Johnson.

Back in February 2009, construction crews in downtown’s East Village stumbled upon the tusk and skull of a mammoth believed to be 500,000 years old.

Those fossils were discovered at 11th and Island Avenues, at the construction site for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Days later, that same construction site gave up another prehistoric find when excavators discovered the skeleton of a whale beneath the mammoth fossils.

At that time, San Diego Natural History Museum Paleo Services Department Director Tom Demere called it an "unprecedented find" because it was the only marine mammal dating from the Pleistocene era ever found in San Diego County. Several ribs, a piece of skull and part of the animal’s lower jaw were unearthed, found 12 feet directly below the mammoth fossils.

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