TUSTIN (CBSLA.com) — California leatherback turtles are among a treasure trove of fossils unearthed at an Orange County construction site.
Experts say the turtles are the most exciting and significant fossils uncovered over the past several weeks.
The construction site being excavated was once 3,000 feet underneath the sea. It includes the roadway that is being extended at La Pata Avenue between San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.
“There’s areas that have never been touched before. We hired a paleontological firm to help us monitor that area [and] to make sure that we protect those resources,” said Nardy Kahn, an Orange County Public Works manager.
Other ancient finds include a walrus fossil dating back as far as 7 million years along with hundreds of other fossils.
That fossil and others are being meticulous uncovered and preserved inside a Tustin laboratory.
“Every time you take an animal out of a rock, it’s the first time a person’s ever touched it because it’s been locked in rock since 3 to 7 million years ago,” said Lloyd Sample, a paleontologist.
After the pieces are dug out of the rocks, those rocks are being sifted through a machine, which has uncovered more fossil fragments and even a shark’s tooth.
These fossils and those of whales, seals, dolphins and fish will be on display for the public in two years.