A paleontologist hired by LA Metro has examined a fossil found at Metro’s $1.7- billion Regional Connector subway project site in Los Angeles and found it to be that of an extinct Miocene-aged whale that lived approximately 10 to 15 million years ago.
The discovery was made earlier this summer during excavation at the site of the future Historic Broadway Station, one of three new Regional Connector stations. While performing station excavation, crews discovered the large bone in the sidewall of the Broadway Station that was tentatively identified as a whale vertebra.
Metro says it has hired paleontologists at each of its projects to monitor excavation efforts and identify and preserve fossils when needed. When the bone was found at the Regional Connector site they looked to Paleontologist Courtney Richards, M.S., with Monrovia, Calif-based Paleo Solutions, a company that serves a variety of clients in paleontology mitigation and construction monitoring.
Richards recently told Metro that although the fossil was not identifiable to a certain species, it likely belongs to an extinct Miocene-aged whale that lived approximately 10 to 15 million years ago based on the age of the geologic formation it is preserved within, and the initial evaluation of the discovery.”
“Whales evolved from land mammals that lived during the Eocene Epoch around 55 million years ago,” said Richards. “By the late Miocene, when the Regional Connector whale lived, both groups of modern whales (baleen and toothed) had evolved and were common in the ocean that completely covered the Los Angeles Basin, including the Regional Connector site.”
Richards says all the fossils recovered during the project will be offered to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Last year, on Metro’s $2-billion Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor project, two partial large mammal bones were discovered in a sandy clay layer area 16 ft beneath Crenshaw Boulevard. The first fossil was determined to be from a bison and the second fossil was identified as a sloth head fragment. Experts say the sloth probably lived in the Los Angeles basin 11,000 to 40,000 years ago and could have weighed up to 1,500 pounds and measured 10 ft in length.
Also last year, bones belonging to an ancient camel and a mastodon or mammoth were found during excavation work under Wilshire Boulevard for the Purple Line Extension subway.
The Metro Regional Connector Project extends from the Metro Gold Line Little Tokyo/Arts District Station to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles, allowing passengers to transfer to Blue, Expo, Red and Purple Lines, bypassing Union Station. The 1.9-mile alignment will serve Little Tokyo, the Arts District, Civic Center, The Historic Core, Broadway, Grand Av, Bunker Hill, Flower St and the Financial District.
The new subway extension, expected to open in 2021, will also provide a one-seat ride for travel across Los Angeles County. From the Metro Gold Line, passengers will be able to travel from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without transferring lines. The project is begin led by Regional Connector Constructors (RCC), a joint venture of Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc. and Traylor Bros. Inc.