Ice-Age bison fossil found in North County

SAN DIEGO – Fossil bones of a bison dating back to the Ice Age found in North County are now on display in Balboa Park.

The fossil was found in April during construction in Bonsall of the on-ramp at the Interstate 15 and State Route 76 interchange.

“It’s very exciting in that this is the first time we’ve found this kind of fossil in our region,” said Tom Demere, curator at the San Diego Natural History Museum where the fossils are on display.

bison fossils“We knew from our studies before-hand that there may be some finds there so we had a paleontological monitor from the San Diego Natural History Museum,” said Laurie Berman, Caltrans district director.  “What they found was quite a bit more than what they were expecting.”

Preliminary evidence suggests the fossil is around 200,000 years old.  It’s believed the bison carcass was scavenged since some of the parts were found 60 feet apart.  The skull, lower back, hip and one arm were found.

“It’s not complete by any means, but it’s more complete than we’ve ever found before in this region,” said Demere, who believes the public can learn a lot from the bison.

“It helps us to understand more fully the diversity of organisms that once lived here 100,000 to 200,000 years ago,” he said.  “It can, perhaps, lead to some discussion of what future climate change might occur because these animals lived through several cycles of climate change.”

The public can watch as the sediment is cleaned from the fossil.  It will be available for viewing on and off for the next three weeks at the San Diego Natural History Museum.