More than 500 fossils unearthed in California construction

FREMONT, Calif. (CNN/KNTV) — More than 500 fossils have been unearthed at a dam construction site in Silicon Valley in California.

The incredible finds include teeth from what could be the biggest prehistoric shark that ever lived, measuring close to 40 feet.

Paleontologists have also found the teeth of an animal called the Desmostylus — which is a long-extinct hippo-like creature — as well as an entire ancient whale skeleton.

Most of the fossils are believed to be about 20 million years old.

During that time, the ocean extended as far inland as the Central Valley in California.

That means water covered the area where a new dam is being built, right next to the existing Calaveras Dam.

As part of construction, 10 million cubic yards of rock, soil and dirt are being moved. That’s when the workers started to uncover the fossils.

“We’ve found both vertebrates and invertebrates. Invertebrates: things like scallops, snails — scallops the size of dinner plates, actually — snails, barnacles,” said Betsy Rhodes, with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “The vertebrates are what are really exciting, actually. We have found whale skulls. We have found shark teeth ranging in size from my pinky nail all the way to a Megalodon shark.”

Extra resources were brought in to protect, extract and identify the fossils.

Paleontologists will continue working with construction workers for the next few years.

The fossils will eventually end up at a local museum.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

blog comments powered by Disqus