WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A California ranger discovered fossils of Great Beasts while he was doing his work in the Mokelumne River watershed.
- The discoveries included the skull of an American mastodon, and the bones of a salmon species, which was about 400 pounds.
- The fossils are thought to be from ten million years ago.
A local government ranger in California discovered several fossils of Great Beasts while doing work in the Mokelumne River watershed, southeast of Sacramento.
Ranger Greg Francek of the East Bay Municipal Utility District was working in the area when he found a fossilized tree half-buried in the soil. The tree is thought to be from the Miocene Era of around 10 million years ago.
According to an EBMUD statement, Francek found a second tree as he looked around the area further. He continued to look around until he found dozens of trees and realized that the trees were part of a petrified forest, a forest that existed millions of years ago and was buried in the ground.
There are 19 petrified forests of various sizes in the U.S, with some as big as a national park.
It took Francek three weeks of surveying the area to find his first vertebrate fossil; a broken piece that’s double the size of his folding knife.
“What I didn’t comprehend at the time [of the initial find]” the ranger said, “was the amazing fact that I was looking at the bones of great beasts that had roamed this landscape millions of years ago.”
Francek then communicated with every geologist and paleontologist in the area, and a team from California State University, Chico, arrived and began excavating the fossils.
They discovered bones of two elephant cousins, rhino, camel, horses, tortoises, and a toothed salmon weighing 400 pounds. Francek’s discovery, which is the first in the area since 1947 is considered the largest single discovery in the history of California.
The most astounding find was the complete skull of an American mastodon whose teeth and magnificent tusks are still intact. Four days of work and eight people were needed for the fossil to be loaded into a truck. The two-tusked mastodon existed more than 10 million years ago and went extinct 12,000 years ago during the Pleistocene.
The team also discovered a gomphothere, another Elephant-like mammal with four tusks. Gomphotheres went extinct around 6 million years ago. A backhoe was needed to heave the mammal’s massive jaw from the ground.
Other discoveries include the remains of merychippus, a three-toed horse from the Miocene Period, tapirs, dromedary, and rhinoceros. A Miocene salmon species that was about 400 pounds and had a mouth full of teeth, was one of the most challenging discoveries.
The area is now being protected by both the state and the federal government, while experts will try to find out why the fossils were there, and how the animals died.
Source: Good News Network