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The NAT Showcasing Fossils Unearthed At San Diego Construction Sites

The San Diego Natural History Museum's

Photo by San Diego Natural History Museum

Above: The San Diego Natural History Museum's "Fossil Mysteries" exhibit is shown in this undated photo.

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A new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum shows off 500,000-year-old mollusks from downtown's East Village and more.

Imagine being one of the first people to hold something in your hand that was buried centuries ago deep in the earth. That's what some of the folks working behind the scenes get to do at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

"You can see the eyes on both sides, this is the center. It's missing the back of the skull that was taken off by bulldozers," said Tom Demere as he shows off the first of two prehistoric bison found near a construction site off Interstate 15 in San Diego's North County.

Demere is curator of paleontology at the NAT where workers and volunteers in the Paleo Services unit are getting ready to showcase fossils discovered in our own backyard over the past year.

Ninety percent of the fossils found at construction sites in San Diego and Southern California are on display in The Fossil Mysteries exhibit at the NAT, including 500,000-year-old mollusks found in the East Village.

It wasn't until 1970 that California passed a law requiring construction companies to work with scientists to protect and preserve the bones. The regulations fall under the California Environmental Quality Act.

"So those fossils wouldn't be here to appreciate, if it were not for CEQA and Paleo Services," Demere said.

San Diego Natural History Museum Showcasing Fossils Unearthed At San Diego Construction Sites

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