Though work on a Los Angeles subway line extension hasn’t officially begun, an exploratory shaft down 70 feet to study the soil yielded a treasure trove of fossils that researchers compared to “walking along an ice age shoreline.”
“Here on the Miracle Mile is where the best record of life from the last great ice age in the world is found,” paleontologist Kim Scott with Cogstone Resource Management told the Los Angeles Times.
Thus far, excavators at the dig near the La Brea Tar Pits have found ancient mollusks, sand dollars, wood, pine cones and possibly part of a sea lion’s mouth.
Scott estimated that most of the materials are from the Pleistocene epoch, dating them between 100,000 to 330,000 years old, according to the Times.
The nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art encountered a similar payload of fossils in 2009 when it was constructing an underground garage, including the discovery of a nearly intact mammoth skeleton. Other discoveries in the vicinity have included saber-toothed tigers and ground sloths, among other animals.
To ensure that construction of the subway station will begin on time, paleontologists are identifying areas with possible fossils, digging underneath them and putting the large tar samples in crates for later analysis, the Times reported.
According to Scott, none of the fossils found in this latest dig are of extinct species.
“We can still find all the plants and animals in California,” the paleontologist told the newspaper.
KABC-TV reported that the area is being called the “Subway to the Sea.”
By doing this prep work in the area known to be dense with fossils, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority spokesman Dave Sotero told the news station that it “will enable the contractor to have more information to better build the station boxes and tunnels for this project.”
Watch the KABC’s report: