The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Breaking News

July 7, 2014

Dam construction turns up fossil treasure trove

FREMONT, Calif. — Giant teeth from a 40-foot-long shark and portions of what could turn out to be an entire whale skeleton are among more than 500 fossils that have been unearthed at a dam construction site in Silicon Valley, a newspaper reported.

Most of the fossils uncovered at the Calaveras Dam replacement project in Fremont are believed to be about 20 million years old, dating to the Miocene Epoch, when the ocean extended as far inland as Bakersfield, California, the San Jose Mercury News reported Monday.

Scallops, clams, barnacles and the teeth of an extinct hippopotamus-like creature called a Desmostylus have all been dug up since 2011, when work on the project began.

"We started finding fossils here before construction even started," paleontologist Jim Walker, who is working alongside construction crews on the project, said. "It was exciting. We were finding scallops, and I said, 'I want to get a whale.' And we did."

Crews have discovered nine whale skulls. Plant fossils and fossils of animal tracks and burrows have also been discovered.

The $700 million dam replacement project is part of a 15-year, $4.6 billion upgrade to the Hetch Hetchy water system, which relies primarily on the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park and serves about 2.6 million customers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The reservoir created by the Calaveras Dam is among several local reservoirs that supply the region. The dam, completed in 1925, is being replaced with one more capable of withstanding earthquakes.

Crews are currently removing earth in front of the dam, the Mercury News reported. Construction on the new dam itself, which will go up about 400 yards downstream, is expected to start in 2016, with completion expected two years later.

Paleontologists will continue working with construction workers for the next few years. The fossils eventually will end up at a museum in the Bay Area, according to officials from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is building the dam.

Meanwhile, in a separate find in the West, crews doing road construction in northwestern New Mexico unearthed artifacts that officials said might be from the ancient Puebloan culture.

The workers were widening a highway bordering the Salmon Ruins, an archaeological site in Bloomfield, when one of them last week noticed something red and black glinting in the sun, the Daily Times reported Sunday. Crews ended up finding buried pottery pieces and fragments of charcoal, burned corn fibers and other material.

Salmon Ruins Executive Director Larry Baker said he thought the pottery might be from the Pueblo III-era — between 1100 and 1300 A.D. — based on the design on the shards.

"I'm speculating, but I believe it's midden, a trash deposit, based on the diversity of shards," Baker said. "This is great."

He added employees are in the process of recording the discovery, which will be keep at the ruins as part of its artifact collection.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you plan to attend one of the public sessions about the Mounds Lake reservoir project?

Yes
No
Not sure yet
     View Results