Fossil Discovery!


In 1981, paleontologist George Callison (who took these two discovery photos) headed a group of fossil fans out to the Upper Oso Dam in Orange County to look for specimens before the area got flooded.  The site was in the Montery Formation, of Late Miocene age.

There was vertebrate fossil material virtually everywhere one stepped, most of it of little scientific value. I wandered off and spotted, protruding from a a mound of clay, what looked to me like some kind of flute. I picked it up and cleaned it off a bit, discovering it to be indeed some kind of fossil. But of what? I called out for one of the professionals in the group to identify it and was soon surrounded by paleontologists, all of them discussing the specimen.  I was hoping to add the fossil to my own collection. but such was not to be.






The specimen was identified as the snout of the skull of a prehistoric dolphin. Excavation by paleontologist Rodeney E. Raschke exposed the rest of the skull.  It turned out to represent a new genus and species of kentriodontine kentriodontid dolphin. I didn’t get to keep it…and it wasn’t named for the guy who found it…but the snout (now reattached to the rest of the skull, whch was subsequently found)  is being safely curated in the collections of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County where I’m a volunteer. So I can at least look at it whenever I choose to do so!