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Mastodons in the Caldecott?

A gomphotherium jaw, from the Blackhawk Quarry

Yes! And that's not all! Construction of the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel on Highway 24 is cutting through fossiliferous rocks in the East Bay Hills deposited some nine to ten million years ago. Rocks of this age have produced fossils of mastodons, several kinds of horses and camels, and carnivores including a hyena-like dog and a saber-tooth cat – so those involved in the drilling process are keeping an eye out for any such finds.

To illustrate what has been found in earlier excavations, UCMP has provided an exhibit of fossil representatives of some of these mammals. The fossils were actually collected at the Blackhawk Ranch Quarry on the eastern slopes of Mount Diablo, but they represent the same fauna as the fossils that have been found at the Caldecott Tunnel.

The exhibit has been developed in cooperation with the Lafayette Historical Society and also includes examples of restorations of the ancient flora and fauna prepared by a local artist, the late William Gordon Huff. Some of these restorations were shown at the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair.

The exhibit will be on display at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center (3491 Mt. Diablo Boulevard) until early March. The Lafayette Historical Society is sponsoring a lecture, "Old Bones in the New Tunnel", to be held at the library on February 16th at 3:00 PM.

If you miss this exhibit, fossils and archives from the exhibit will be on display at UCMP during Cal Day, April 16, 2011, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and learn about "who" wandered Berkeley before the Cal Bears!

See more Blackhawk Quarry fossils, and a drawing by Huff at the UCMP Flickr photostream:

Borophagus skull from the Blackhawk Quarry Hipparion skull from the Blackhawk Quarry Camel skull from the Blackhawk Quarry Dog drawing by William Huff