Much of the City of Laguna Hills has been built over unusually rich deposits of fossil-bearing sediments. Over the years this has led to a number of significant paleontological discoveries at sites throughout the City such as Costeau Park and Fossil Reef Park. However, fossil discoveries have extended beyond these sites and been found at the Laguna Hills Community Center and Sports Complex. View photo of the fossil discoveries.
In 1968, paleontologists for the Los Angeles County Musuem uncovered a series of 50,000 year old bones in Costeau Park belonging to long-extinct creatures such as mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths. While the areas where the fossils were found is now covered by grass, sidewalks, and playground equipment, the dig was some of the 1st significant evidence in south Orange County of the Pleistocene Age, a period of about 50,000 years ago when herds of animals roamed in Southern California.
Fossil Reef Park
A 2nd, older deposit of fossils was found in the paleontological reserve known as Fossil Reef Park. Fossil Reef Park is part of the 6 mile long, 300 foot deep reef of limestone dating back 17 million years when much of Orange County was submerged under a shallow, tropical bay. Imbedded within the reef are fossil remains of scallop shells the size of dinner plates, clams, tube worms and other sea creatures. These areas went on to provide a calving site for early whales millions of years later.
Community Center & Sports Complex
During the construction of the Laguna Hills Community Center and Sports Complex, a number of well-preserved fossils were unearthed believed to be from mammoths. Workers on the site found fossilized tusks, vertebrae, and femurs from Columbian Mammoths. Bones of a mastodont were also uncovered, although only a portion of the mastodont was unearthed.
Alicia Parkway & Moulton Parkway
At the nearby corner of Alicia Parkway and Moulton Parkway, a 12 to 15 million year old whale fossil was discovered during construction grading of the area. The 40-foot mammal was believed to have died and settled on its back in the underwater reef encompassing the area millions of years ago. Another find uncovered at a nearby site was the tooth of a young camel, believed to be from 100,000 to 1 million years old. As late as 100,000 years ago, camels roamed Orange County, but eventually died out.
Three Major Paleo-Environments
Laguna Hills has a rich history, having undergone 3 major paleo-environments in its past. This has led to numerous fossil discoveries throughout the City that tell amazing tales of times long past.