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Mastodons, mammoths, and moms

Nothing says Mothers’ Day quite like an afternoon museum talk about … extinct elephants? On Sunday, May 13, 2012, celebrate Mothers’ Day in a unique way with San Bernardino County Museum Curator of Paleontology Eric Scott, who will present a talk entitled “Mastodons, Mammoths, and Moms” at 2:00 p.m. at the Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley. This program is free with museum admission.

Fossil remains of extinct elephants—giant mammoths and smaller, more primitive mastodons—are common from Pleistocene (“Ice Age”) sites throughout inland southern California as well as most of North America. San Bernardino County Museum paleontologists have been very successful in finding and preserving large numbers of fossils of these extinct animals, including mammoths from Victorville and Las Vegas and giant mastodons from Hemet. The abundance of these remains in our region reflects a similar abundance elsewhere on the continent. In fact, some of the earliest records of fossil animals from North America are fossils of mastodons and mammoths, and many icons of American History—including Cotton Mather, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin—actively collected remains of these animals.

“Here at the San Bernardino County Museum, our collections are full of fossil remains of mammoths and mastodons from inland, from the deserts, from all over the place,” said Scott. “These fossils give us more than a connection with the Ice Ages. They also provide a link with our uniquely American heritage. In effect, mastodons and mammoths gave birth to vertebrate paleontology in America.”

Scott’s presentation will review the history of early discoveries of mastodons and mammoths in North America and discuss recent finds in our region. “What is the connection between mothers and extinct mammoths and mastodons? You’ll just have to come to the talk to find that out,” said Scott.

The Victor Valley Museum, a branch of the San Bernardino County Museum, is at 11873 Apple Valley Road in Apple Valley. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 (adult), $4 (senior or military), and $2.50 (student). Children under 5 and San Bernardino County Museum Association members are free. Parking is free. For more information, visit

The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.

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