When paleontologists realized that American Mastodon teeth found during the excavation of Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet were smaller than others in the country, they could not explain it.
You have your answer now.
These teeth actually belonged to Pacific Mastodon, a new mastodon species that was announced Wednesday, March 27, at the Western Science Center in Hemet.
"Finding a new ice age animal is like finding a new animal alive today," said Alton Dooley CEO and senior researcher at the Center for the project, which started about four years ago.
The revelation of the new species coincided with the publication of a research paper on the Pacific Mastodon.
Kathleen Springer from the US Geological Survey and Eric Scott from Cogstone Resource Management were part of the researchers' excavations on paper, along with three others.
The Pacific Mastodon had narrower teeth, thicker thighbones and six vertebral bodies compared to the five American mastodons. In contrast to 25 percent of American mastodons, they also lacked the lower tusks.
The center was established in 2006 to house the archaeological and paleontological discoveries made during the excavation of the Lake, the largest drinking water reservoir of the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California, in Southern California.
More than 100,000 glacial fossils were discovered during the excavation.
Half of the Mastodons in California were found in Diamond Valley Lake and are located in the center, but the finding is not limited to this region, said Dooley.
"We looked at more than 500 mastodons from across North America, including California, and we found that the Pacific Mastodon was found throughout California," Dooley said, adding that there were also three specimens in Idaho gave.
That is, the American Mastodons exhibited in other museums – including the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and the San Diego Natural History Museum – are actually Pacific Mastodons.
It also means that Max Mastodon, the center's model and mascot, is a Pacific Mastodon.
Dooley said there is no evidence that American mastodons are actually in California "
" All things that are called American mastodons in museums all over California are indeed Pacific mastodons, "said Dooley
Since the Ice Age is one of the most studied, they expected to find new science from the fossils, but not a new species.
When researchers started this journey four years ago, they might have thought the Mastodons of the Diamond Valley Lake would have adapted to a particular environment, and mastodons living in other areas of the country's countryside would also have smaller teeth.
"We did not see that," Dooley said. "Everywhere we went, we've seen wide tooth mastodons, and the only place where we saw narrow teeth was in California. "
It's unclear why Pacific mastodons had narrower teeth, as both species Animals were, but it was probably a trait inherited from their ancestors, Scott said.
"It's not necessarily a functional difference," Scott said. "It's more like a descendant of an ancestor who inherited it. We are not sure why there was an initial difference. "
The key point, Scott said, is the constant difference between teeth, vertebrae and lower tusks over tens of thousands of years, strongly suggesting that it is a different species
" There is a very clear demarcation " , he said. "That's why you argue for a species, because that's actually the biological definition of a species that is reproductively isolated. As far as we can tell from these anatomical features, these mastodons were reproductively isolated from American mastodons. "