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mastodon bones
Agua Hedionda Lagoon center shares Mastodon bones found in North County. Courtesy photo
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Discovery Center exhibits mastodon bones found in North County

CARLSBAD —  Several pieces of natural history are on display at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation’s Discovery Center.

Four mastodon bones are currently on temporary loan from the San Diego Natural History Museum for display at the Discovery Center.

According to Samantha Richter, chief operating officer for Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, the bones were all found in North County San Diego, where these ancient giants once walked.

“There is a femur and a vertebra which were found at the Wanis View Estates in Oceanside and a tusk and molar both found during the excavation for the Robertson Ranch development in Carlsbad,” said Richter.

The bones have been stored at the San Diego Natural History Museum for the last 10 years. Emily Bonds, the foundation’s programs coordinator, was responsible for contacting the museum, retrieving and displaying the bones starting on Jan. 18.

“We want to help people understand the natural history of our area,” said Bonds. “We can learn a great deal about the coastline of California and what kind of vegetation and forestation was here when the Mastodons lived.”

The name “mastodon” means “nipple tooth” which refers to the rounded shape of the mammoth’s molar teeth. Mastodons were primarily browsers, nibbling on shrubs and the low-lying branches of trees. The shape of their teeth made it easier for them to eat wood-based food.

“Mastodons first appeared about 27 to 30 million years ago and were present in North America until 10,000 years ago approximately,” Richter said. “The bones on display are about 100,000 years old.”

Because the Discovery Center is closed for indoor activities due to COVID, the bones will be available for viewing at the entrance to the great room at the Discovery Center.  Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Members are free; a $10 donation is suggested for other visitors.