Remember all that bulldozing, digging, and general messiness that went down during the widening of Laguna Canyon Road north of the toll road 10 years back?
Preservationists decried it as a nasty side effect of the toll road's construction—which, of course, was a source of much consternation all by its lonesome. But it turns out that all that dirt carving yielded a few fascinating discoveries.
Like some previously unknown species of early toothed baleen whales.
Over the weekend, paleontologist Meredith Rivin of Fullerton's John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center presented her fossil findings during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston. You can check out the complete story here on the ScienceNOW website, but here's an excerpt:
The Laguna Canyon outcrop, excavated between 2000 and 2005, turned out to be a treasure trove containing hundreds of marine mammals that lived 17 million to 19 million years ago. It included 30 cetacean skulls as well as an abundance of other ocean dwellers such as sharks, says Rivin, who studies the fossil record of toothed baleen whales. Among those finds, she says, were four newly identified species of toothed baleen whale—a type of whale that scientists thought had gone extinct 5 million years earlier.
Yep, millions of years ago, the ocean really did reach that far up into the canyon—and you thought a few feet of water in downtown during the December 2010 flood was bad.
But the coolest/scariest/awesomest thing about this find has to be what the wear marks on one of the whale teeth revealed. Based on the pattern, Rivin says that the whale's favorite snack may have been ... sharks.
Dude! Now those were some badass whales!