Script for
A Mammoth Find

This slideshow is designed for all grade levels including museum tour.   Main focus is to introduce the story behind the Irvingtonian fossils found in the Irvington District in Fremont.

Slide 1.

·       What is this picture of?  The black and white picture is of a projected 13’ mammoth tusk being excavated by Dr. Don Savage in the 1950s.  A paleontologist who was a professor at U.C. Berkeley. 

·       In the background picture is a teenage Phil Gordon at the Bell quarry where 680 Freeway currently goes through in the Irvington District of Fremont, California.

·        Phil is the son of Wes Gordon (a teacher), who excavated this site with his famous Boy Paleontologists.

Slide 2.

·       This slide shows the tusk from a Columbian Mammoth. Most mammoths we see in cartoons or movies  that depict  Ice Age animals are of Wooly mammoths. 

·       Wooly Mammoths lived in colder climates and had long shaggy fur to stay warm. The mammoth we had here was the Columbian mammoth that was taller and not furry, more like todays African Elephant.  There is some evidence that some Wooly may have been in the Bay area during the Pleistocene.

·       Columbian Mammoths are thought to be the largest of the mammoth group. 

Slide 3.

·       On October 21, 1868 there was a large earthquake (maybe 7.0) on the Hayward Fault.  Read the text about the earthquake to the students. The offset created by the earthquake exposed fossils in the town of Irvington, that is now a part of Fremont.   The event had 6 foot of offset with some vertical movement in some places.  We suspect his area had vertical movement.

·       The quarry where the fossils were found is where present day 680 runs through along Driscoll road between Frys and Mission Dance. Sabercat road gets its name from the fossils that were found here too.

·       This slide shows the exposure of the Hayward fault.  Notice the Hayward Fault in the lower left hand corner. 

Slide 4.

·       One of the first people to collect the Fremont fossils was Lorenzo Gordon Yates, a dentist. He was at Washington college, which was on what is now Washington Blvd near the Irvington sign. Many different fossils were found in this location after the earthquake, modern animals and some that have since become extinct. Some examples are snails, camels and rodents.

·       He was born in 1837 in England and died in 1909 in Santa Barbara developed an extensive collection which he sent to various places including Yale. (Acknowledged in a 1972 publication). He moved to Centerville, Fremont in 1864.

·       His found some impression remains which he thought was elephant, but was later identified as Mammoth and Mastodon.  

Slide 5.

·       Siltstones, sandstones and conglomerates are all types of sedimentary rocks. These rocks were quarried and used to make gravel for roads. Many fossils were discovered in this local quarry.

·       These sedimentary rocks reveal a geological history of a large deltaic structure of rivers carrying gravel and sand toward the Pacific Ocean.

·       The gravels are called the Irvington Gravels that were deposited in the Pleistocene.

Slide 6.

·       This is a bird’s eye view of the quarry from 1953. This area is now where I-680 is near Washington Blvd.

·       The quarry was owned by various people.  Mr. Freitas, the first owner was killed in an accident.  Mr and Mrs Bell owned the quarry when the fossils were found and worked with U.C. Berkeley and Wes Gordon to retrieve the fossils.  

Slide 7.

·       Wes Gordon, leader of the “Boy Paleontologists” is in the plaid shirt. He was a teacher in the San Lorenzo School District who worked with Drs. Ruben Stirton and Charles Camp from U.C. Berkeley.  (l to r  Wes Gordon, Kent (later preparer at UCB), Stirton, Campbell, and Phil Gordon.) 

Slide 8.

·       The Boy Paleontologists were children and adolescents aged 8-17. Many were interested in science and geology.

·       Between 1944 and 1960 Wes Gordon and the Boy Paleontologists hunted for fossils from Fremont to Livermore, and in different quarries around the bay area. Many of them went on to college and learned more about geology and were very good in the field.

·       The bottom right picture shows Mrs. Bell of the Bell quarry along with Wes Gordon, and some of the boys. In the background you can see the conveyer belt that the boys would look for fossils on before the fossil-bearing rocks got crushed. 

Slide 9.

·       Newspapers and magazines had stories about the boys who looked for fossils.

·       One of the most famous stories was published in Life Magazine in the mid-1940s. This is actually the story that gave the “Boy Paleontologists” their name.  

Slide 10.

·       The boy paleontologists (Les Kent )looked for large and small fossils. 

·       Ask the students to describe what they think a paleontologist looks like and what tools do they use. Have the students notice the hammer, screen, acid, water and the different layers of the rock in the background. The screen is used to find smaller fragments of bone that are not always easily seen.

Slide 11.

·       These are animals that were present during the Ice Age.  This was painted for the Children’s Natural History Museum by Laura Cunningham, a paleo-artist.  She based the animals on Dr. Savage’s book on the fossils of this area.  

·       Ask the students to count how many different animals they can find. Sabertooth cat, turtles, pronghorn, western horse, mammoths, ducks, frog, sloths, camelid and a mastodon.

Slides 12.

·       Bones provide the clues in which a paleontologist can identify the animal.

·       Notice the shape of the teeth.  Horse, even today they have rectangular form.

·       There is a shoulder blade in the bottom middle, part of the leg (equivalent to the hand bone, base, middle and tip of finger), on the left and a skull on the top. 

Slide 13. 

·       The Western Horse is an extinct horse that lived in North America.  

·       They are smaller than today’s horse.  Today’s horse are mainly descendants of the European horses.  They probably were the size of the African Zebra. 

·       Some researchers think that today’s wild mustang may have some genetic linage.  

·       They lived in herds and were herbivores.  

Slide 14.

·       These are the bones from a camelid.

·       They have long jaws and wiggles on their teeth similar to modern day camels. (A “w” or “ M” look.)

·       The first is a mandible and the one on right is a skull. 

Slide 15.

·       Camelids were not as large as the African Camel or Mongolian Camels.  They were probably similar to the llama in South America. 

·       They had no large humps.

·       Probably lived in herds like today llama.  They were probably herbivores.   

Slide 16.

·       These images show mammoth skull and the teeth. The teeth have many plates/lophes for grinding up vegetation.

·       They had 4 teeth that grow like a conveyor belt.  (2 on top, 2 on bottom).   They had about 6 sets and then they died (about 60 years).  Similar with elephants.

·       They ate between 600 and 800 lbs per day.  

Slide 17.

·       Mammoths probably lived in a herd structure with a dominate male (bull) similar to today’s elephant.

·       They probably took care of their young for a while, as the time to maturity is much longer than other animals.

·       They were herbivores.  

Slide 18.

·       The image of the left compares the femur of the Short Faced bear to that of a modern bear.

·       The images on the right are of the palate and skull.

·       The Short Faced bear was the largest bear to live.  

Slide 19.

·       Short faced bears were probably solitary, except for females and their cubs.

·       They were omnivores and had much bigger teeth than today’s bears.  

Slide 20.

·       The image on the left is the lower jaw of a Pronghorn Antelope with teeth.   Notice the “W” or “M” form.  This tells you it is not a horse.

·       Pronghorns is an even-toed mammal.

·       The pronghorn has a deer-like body.

·       Its horns do not  

Slide 21.

·       Pronghorns are herbivores and lives in herds in grasslands. They are quiet.

·       These are the fastest animal in North America with speeds up to 60miles per hour.

·       This group is a surviver of the Ice Age.

·       The only animal that actually loses its horn annually is the pronghorn antelope. These antelope shed their horns but the boney core of the horn remains behind.  (Anthers shed and horns remain as a rule) 

Slide 22.

·       These are fossils from a Mastodon. The left shows a tooth (they are much more pointed than the mammoth teeth), and the image on the right is a vertebra.

·       A mastodon is woolier and smaller than a mammoth. 

Slide 23.

·       Mastodons lived in herds and were predominantly forest-dwelling animals that fed on a mixed diet obtained by browsing and grazing with a seasonal preference for browsing.

·       Recently they have found that the western mastodon differs from the Eastern version.  Thomas Jefferson is noted for being intrigued with the eastern mastodon and directed Lewis and Clark to look for the big creature.  

Slides 24.

·       These are fossils from a giant ground sloth. The upper left image is of a coprolite (poop), the lower left is of a rib, upper right depicts the distal end of a femur, and the lower right is the end of the mandible (lower jaw).

·       Sloths were noted for burying their poop. 

Slide 25.

·       Unlike the sloths that live today, these were giants

·       They were probably quiet and slow moving.

·       They only had long claws which they probably used for climbing to eat leaves.

·       They were herbivores.   

Slides 26.  

·       Dire wolves once walked the land of the New World, but now extinct.

·       Known as Canis dirus, dire wolves lived during the Pleistocene, about 250,000 to 10,00 years ago, and are relations of the modern canids lithe the gray wolf.

Slide 27.

·       Dire wolves were larger than today’s wolf.

·       They lived in packs and able to kill larger organisms with that technique.

·       They were carnivores.  

Slide 28.

·       These are some other organisms that were present in this area during the last Ice Age.

·       The raccoon is the largest mammal species from the Ice Age that is still in this area today.

·       Notice the Western pond turtle carapace, fish bones, and oak tree leaf. 

Slide 29.

·      This slide depicts different North American Land Mammal ages during the Pliocene to Pleistocene.

·      Some groups of mammals are diagnostic during specific time periods  (index fossil).

·       Some of the animals that are part of the Land Mammal Ages are listed below the time periods.   Notice the Irvingtonian is named for the town of Irvington.  

Slide 30.

·     Here is a depiction of California during the last Ice Age. The sealevel was lower, and as a result there are areas of emergent coast. These areas are now underwater.

·     Snowpacks were present in the eastern part of the state, however, the climate of the bay area was relativly warm and dry. Ice Age does not mean everywhere was cold!