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Subway discovery: Los Angeles construction still ‘rare’ fossil treasure

Paleontologist Ashley Army shows the skull of a young Columbian mammoth found in the construction of the Metro Purple Line extension in Los Angeles.

(AP)

The fossilized remains of creatures that in the southern California 10,000 years ago were discovered by a crew digging for a subway extension under the streets of Los Angeles.

Ashley Army work for a company in command of Los Angeles transportation officials to keep paleontologists at hand as the city stretches from the purple line to the west.

In the Army you will get a message on her phone, she pulls a neon vest, helmet and goggles for the ascent of deep in a huge construction site under a boulevard east of the city centre.

Since the work on the expansion started in 2014, fossil remains, including a partial rabbit jaw, mastodon tooth, camel foreleg, bison vertebrae and a horse ankle bone are of creatures that through the grasslands and forests that covered the region approximately 10,000 years ago in the last ice age.

A worker stands near a backhoe in the construction of the Metro Purple Line extension in Los Angeles.

(AP)

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But the discovery that makes Army shake her head in disbelief came about a year ago. When they arrived at the site, the Army included what appeared to be a partial elephant skull.

It turned out a much larger discovery. After 15 hours of the excavation, the team discovered an intact skull of a young mammoth.

“It is an absolute dream come true for me,” Army, which over the past decades on a South Dakota mammoth site with no discoveries even close to the size of the one in Los Angeles, said. “It is a fossil you always want to find in your career.”

Paleontologist Ashley Army shows the skull of a young Columbian mammoth found in the construction of the Metro Purple Line extension in Los Angeles.

(AP)

California’s strict environmental laws require that scientists will be on hand on certain construction sites.

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Assistant curator Dr. Emily Lindsey called it a “rather remarkable finding,” noting that while thousands of dire wolf and saber-toothed cat remains have been discovered in L. A., there are only about 30 mammoths.

A few hundred pounds and the size of an armchair, the skull is extremely rare, because both the tusks were made. It has been researched and is available to the public in the museum’s glass-walled Fossil Lab.

With a nod to Hollywood, the 8 – to 12-year-old Colombian mammoth was the name Hayden, for the actress Hayden Panettiere, seen in the TV series “Nashville” and “Heroes.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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