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Mrs. H and I headed off for a quick day-trip to the brand new Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County in lovely Fairmead, CA. The museum was built in collaboration with the San Joaquin Paleontological Society and Madera County to permanently display the rich Irviningtonian Stage fossils first discovered in fresh excavation cells at the Fairmead landfill in 1993. Paleontologists originally thought the recovery of fossils on site would take two weeks but kept discovering more and more fossils as new cells were excavated. Through an agreement with the county, museum and landfill managers, paleontologists now walk behind excavators when new cells are being dug and flag fossils for recovery. The rich fossil assemblage that dates somewhere between 400,000 and 800,000 years old has yielded fifteen different species of large mammals ranging from horses to short-faced bears. It’s quite an exercise to imagine these beasts roaming around our backyard during the last ice-ages when the climate was much more savannah-like. The fossils are not as well-preserved as their cousins in La Brea due to the fact that most fossils were deposited in flood debris from the ancient Chowchilla River. The museum is off to a great start, and I was quite surprised to see so many people attending. Within three years I can envision this museum being one of the top three in the central valley. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for students. Currently the tours last about 25 minutes and we were done perusing the museum in a little over an hour. A great day trip if time is short!

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Mrs. H provides some scale.
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You can read...
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A cast of the short-faced bear.
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Smilodon cast.
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Short-faced bear cast.
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Equus cast.
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Smilodon.
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