Another set of fossils discovered at Metro subway excavation site

For the second time in five months, construction at the Metro Purple Line extension has led to the discovery of Ice Age fossils.

Crews found what turned out to be a camel bone and a bone from a mammoth or mastodon last week while working on the subway extension at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said Wednesday.

The mammoth or mastodon fossil was found April 12. It is about 36 inches long and is believed to be a femur of an Ice Age elephant.


Crews stumbled upon the second bone the next day, a 20-inch-long forearm camel bone, from the extinct Camelops hesternus.

“We’re really excited about the discovery,” Sotero said. Paleontologists have “indicated that it’s rare to find camel fossils in this area.”

Both remains are from the Ice Age, or at least 10,000 years old, Sotero said.

Because fossils are protected by law, Metro has an agreement with paleontologist services. Experts monitoring the excavation site were able to spot what they thought was bone material within the sediment, Sotero said.

Construction was diverted away from the fossil area so that bones could be removed. They were preserved in plaster the same day and removed from the site after the plaster dried. The bones were then taken to a lab in Riverside for identification and analyses.

According to Sotero, fossils found at the Wilshire Boulevard-La Brea Avenue station are eventually taken to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Any fossils uncovered at the Wilshire Boulevard-Fairfax Avenue station, also undergoing excavation, go to the Page Museum.

“The finds are just another example of what a fantastic place L.A. is for paleontology. We’ve got fossils pretty much everywhere we dig,” said Emily Lindsay, assistant curator at the La Brea Tar Pits. “It’s always great to find fossils from other locations to compare and see how representative the community we have here is.”

In November, a 3-foot section of tusk fragments, fragments of a mastodon tooth as well as partial skull and tusks, believed to belong to an ancient elephant, were found at the Purple Line excavation site.

Twitter: @JeffLanda


8:50 p.m.: This article was updated to add comments from an assistant curator with the La Brea Tar Pits.

This article was originally published at 7:50 p.m.