Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thrilla in Chowchilla

New Moon

Just outside Chowchilla, CA, right off Exit 164 from Highway 99, a smidge down Avenue 21 1/2, is the Fairmead Landfill. Right next to the Fairmead Landfill is the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County. Inside the Fossil Discovery Center is where you could find me and Mike Carroll and his grandson Riley this morning. We were getting educated in the air conditioned museum, clicking on the QR symbols and reading up on all the Pleistocene critters excavated in the surrounding area. As soon as we stepped in the door, we were greeted by a biggo Columbian Mammoth skeleton.

Ten tons big from 500,000 years ago.
In 1993, the first fossil was found in the Fairmead Landfill by an alert worker who noticed something that looked like bone. It was a Columbian Mammoth tusk buried 35 feet below the surface in the sandy clay of the Turlock Lake Formation. Since then, hundreds of fossils have been found by paleontologists, leading to the eventual building of the Fossil Discovery Center.

The Fairmead Landfill can be seen in the background.

Both herbivores and carnivores are present in the collection, including horses and camels, plus ground sloths, dire wolves, smilodons, and Short faced bears. Fossils of many common animals that are still alive today are also here, like badgers, turtles, geese, coyotes, kangaroo rats, foxes, and rabbits. For a small, out of the way museum, the Fossil Discovery Center packs a big wallop. If you are anywhere close, drop in and check it out.

Ground sloth.
Smilodon (saber-tooth tiger), the California state fossil.
The Short faced bears could run 40 mph.
Allosaurs were extinct long before the Pleistocene, but the Center has some nice replica skulls on display.
For a small fee, kids can dig for replica fossils in a shaded pavilion outside the museum, learning to identify the animals from their skull and jaw bones. It's pretty fun!

Riley can dig it you and can, too.
Peace, Love, and Get Smart,