Diamond Valley Lake excavation releases secrets

Tom Jones / The Valley Chronicle
Affectionately called “Max” to center regulars, this fossil was unearthed several years ago and has been under study by Center scientists and university scholars.

■ Chronicle News Staff

An exciting discovery has happened right here in our very own piece of the planet. On Mar. 27 at 10 a.m., the Western Science Center unveiled the discovery of a new Ice Age species which was recently identified from fossils unearthed during excavation of Diamond Valley Lake back in the 1990s.
This announcement will have major implications for fossils on exhibit and in the collections of local LA and San Diego museums such as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the La Brea Tar Pits.
The Western Science Center mastodon turns out to be one of an entire new species of the massive beast that roamed the Hemet area some 200,000 years ago.
It is now known as a Pacific mastodon, as opposed to the previously thought Mammut americanum, more common throughout the rest of the country.
Affectionately called “Max” to center regulars, the fossil was unearthed several years ago and has been under study by Center scientists and university scholars. The new species is characterized by conspicuously narrower teeth and heavier leg bones than other mastodons.
Present at the announcement were the Western Science Center’s Executive Director Dr. Alton Dooley, Kathleen Springer of the U.S. Geological Survey and Eric Scott of Cogstone Resource Management. Springer and Scott were part of that original Diamond Valley Lake excavation.
The Western Science Center was later founded in 2006 to house the archaeological and paleontological finds discovered during the excavation of Diamond Valley Lake. The lake, completed in March 2000, is Southern California’s largest drinking water reservoir and is owned and operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The museum has since grown to become the largest natural history museum in Riverside County and is home to one of the largest collections of mastodons in North America.
The museum, located here in Hemet at 2345 Searl Parkway, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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