LA subway dig finds prehistoric artefacts

Last updated 11:19 16/03/2014
One of the fossilised mussel shells unearthed while construction crews dig a 20-metre exploratory shaft in preparation for a future subway extension in Los Angeles.
LA Times/MCT

FOSSIL FIND: One of the fossilised mussel shells unearthed while construction crews dig a 20-metre exploratory shaft in preparation for a future subway extension in Los Angeles.

Paleontologist Kim Scott holds what she says is possibly part of a fossilised sea lion skull unearthed while construction crews dig a 20-metre exploratory shaft in preparation for a future subway extension in Los Angeles.
LA Times/MCT
SUBWAY FIND: Paleontologist Kim Scott holds what she says is possibly part of a fossilised sea lion skull unearthed while construction crews dig a 20-metre exploratory shaft in preparation for a future subway extension in Los Angeles.

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Scientists have long known that long before hipsters and tourists were crowding Los Angeles' trendy Miracle Mile district, dinosaurs were doing the same.

Now, thanks to a subway dig, they're discovering that sea lions may have been swimming nearby as well.

An exploratory subway shaft dug just down the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has uncovered a treasure trove of other prehistoric artefacts in the land where dinosaurs once roamed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

They include molluscs, asphalt-saturated sand dollars and possibly the mouth of a sea lion dating to two million years ago, a time when the Pacific Ocean extended several kilometres farther inland than it does today.

"Here on the Miracle Mile is where the best record of life from the last great ice age in the world is found," said paleontologist Kim Scott.

The area, dotted today with museums, restaurants, boutiques and apartment buildings, also includes the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits. It was there that dinosaurs got stuck in the pits' oozing muck, which preserved their skeletons for millennia.

The shaft, dug ahead of work scheduled next year to extend a subway line across LA's west side, is now revealing far more material, including geoducks, clams, snails, mussels and even a three-metre limb from a pine tree of the type normally now found in central California's woodlands.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working with Cogstone Resource Management and the nearby George C Page Museum to identify and preserve the artifacts.

More such discoveries are expected when excavation work begins on a nearby subway station.

"LA's prehistoric past is meeting its subway future," noted transit authority spokesman Dave Sotero.

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- AP

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