News & Media

The Bones are Back!

Published: September 10, 2010
Paleo Party
Paleontologist Tom Demere with the mammoth tusks

The mammoth and whale bones unearthed during the excavation of the new Thomas Jefferson School of Law downtown campus in February of 2009 were on display during a special event at the San Diego Natural History Museum on September 9.

Each year the museum holds a “paleo party” to show off the fossils it has discovered during the previous year.

Although museum paleontologist Pat Sena discovered the fossils of a mastodon and a whale in Otay Mesa recently, the star of the show was still the mammoth and whale he discovered at the TJSL site.

For the first time, both tusks of TJSL’s Ice-Age mammoth were displayed side by side, along with the huge skull and molars found along with it.

The museum’s chief paleontologist Tom Demere is still marveling at the good fortune of finding the mammoth and whale at the same excavation site but says the mammoth’s species has still not been positively identified. It’s either a Columbian Mammoth or a mammuthus meridionalis (Southern Mammoth), according to Demere.

Make no bones about it -- either way -- it’s a big hit!

Thomas Jefferson himself, whose avocation was studying the fossils of the mammoths and mastodons of North America, would surely be smiling to know that the bones were found on the campus that bears his name.

When the law school moves to the new campus in January of 2011, the rib of the ancient whale found on the site will be on display in the lobby.