For Immediate Release

Western Science Center in Hemet Receives Fossil Whale

HEMET –The largest natural history museum in Riverside County has a new arrival – the Western Science Center has received a fossil whale from Los Angeles County-based mitigation company Paleo Solutions, Inc.
In September 2015, a Paleo Solutions’ paleontologist watching construction excavations for the Polo Ranch housing development in Scott’s Valley, California, spotted a bone that was unearthed by heavy equipment. More bones were exposed, and the bone was identified as an extinct species of baleen whale. The specimen is approximately 3-5 million years old.

Several jackets of material were delivered to the museum on Friday, June 22nd, and the largest of those jackets will be on public display outside of the museum’s main building near the Simulated Dig Site.
Western Science Center staff and volunteers will immediately begin the lengthy process of preparing the whale out of the jacket and removing the surrounding sediment, which visitors will be able to observe as part of their regular museum admission.

Visitors to the Western Science Center will also have the opportunity to put forward their family-friendly ideas for the new arrival’s name, which will then be voted on by WSC staff and announced on July 11th. Suggestions can be submitted either online at or at the admissions desk. “Whales have been part of California’s ecosystems for millions of years; we’re excited to give our visitors the chance to give their new neighbor a name!” says Marketing & Events Specialist Brittney Stoneburg.

The recovery and permanent preservation of this exciting fossil discovery could not have been made possible without the hard work and dedication of Paleo Solutions’ salvage and laboratory staff; support and assistance of the Lennar Corporation, Independent Construction Company, Albion Environmental, and City of Scotts Valley; and vision and commitment of the Western Science Center staff and volunteers.

For more information, please contact:
Brittney Stoneburg, Marketing & Events Specialist (951)791-0033 |

HEMET – The Western Science Center is pleased to announce its annual fundraiser, Science Under the Stars, taking place on September 9, 2017 at 5:00 PM. This year’s theme is “The Science of the Ice Age.”

Considered one of the greatest parties in the Inland Empire, Science Under the Stars takes place on the museum’s beautiful outdoor piazza. Guest will enjoy a delicious catered dinner, open bar, and the chance to explore the museum’s exhibits. Guests will also have the opportunity to take home unique auction items, which include vacation getaways, fossil replicas, and a signed print of artwork featured in the museum’s new exhibit Valley of the Mastodons.

This year’s guest speaker is paleontologist Eric Scott of Cogstone Resource Management, who assisted with the excavation of Diamond Valley Lake. The night will be MC’d by radio personality Bob Madden of local station 101.3 The Mix. Music will be provided by classic rock band One 2 Many, and guests are encouraged to dance the night away!

Western Science Center is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit; all proceeds from Science Under the Stars support the Western Science Center and its programs. Currently in its eleventh year of operation, the museum continues its mission to discover the past, explore the present, and promote a sustainable future. Science Under the Stars is a vital component of the Western Science Center’s fundraising goals as the museum seeks to provide educational opportunities to the Inland Empire at large.

“The Western Science Center is at the forefront of research and education about the Inland Empire’s natural history,” says Dr. Alton Dooley, the Western Science Center’s Executive Director. “Community support, including Science Under the Stars is what enables us to do this innovative work.”

Ticket prices are $125 per seat, $1000 for a table of eight; opportunities for sponsorships are still available. Please call (951) 791-0033 to reserve your spot today; guests can also RSVP online at

For more information, please contact:
Brittney Stoneburg, Marketing & Events Specialist | 951-791-0033, ext. 221

The workshop schedule for Valley of the Mastodons is now available!

The full workshop schedule can be downloaded here.

Please RSVP to the workshop presentations here. Free for students & members w/ID, $5 for educators w/ID, regular admission for all others.

A full speaker schedule for the workshop presentations can be found below:

Thursday, August 3rd
8:10 AM | Dooley: Introduction
8:15 AM | Springer: “The Valley of the Mastodons 20 years on: a look at the past with a view toward the future”
8:30 AM | Scott: “More than mastodons: the Diamond Valley Lake local fauna in a regional context.”
8:45 AM | Dooley: “Mastodons of Unusual Size: How do California specimens of Mammut americanum compare to the rest of North America?”
9:05 AM | K. Smith: “American mastodon tusk morphology: Beast Coast vs. Best Coast”
9:25 AM | Engh: Mastodon Painting
9:45 AM | Break
10:00 AM | Pasenko: “A comparison of the scaphoid in the families Elephantidae, Mammutidae, and Gomphotheriidae (Proboscidea, Mammalia).”
10:20 AM | Zazula: “Mastodons of the frozen North”
10:40 AM | Widga: “In the time of giants: Mastodons from the Gray Fossil Site”
11:10 AM | G. Smith: “The ecological interrelationships of sympatric mammoths, mastodons, and gomphotheres”
11:30 AM | Green: “Regional variation in the browsing diet of the American mastodon as revealed by tooth wear”
11:50 AM | Means: “Beyond the Valley of the Mastodons: 3-D Technology and Ice Age Animals of North America”



HEMET – Mastodons once roamed Diamond Valley Lake – this summer, they’re coming back! The Western Science Center, Riverside County’s largest natural history museum, is announcing the opening of a new exhibit, Valley of the Mastodons, on August 5th, 2017.

Dozens of individual mastodons were found during Metropolitan Water District’s excavation of Diamond Valley Lake; this has earned Hemet the nickname “Valley of the Mastodons”, and many people aren’t aware that these prehistoric relatives of elephants once roamed their backyards.

Valley of the Mastodons will not only be an exhibit, but a workshop where science will be done in real time
in front of the public! Beginning August 2nd and leading up to the exhibit’s opening reception on August 4th, scientists from across the country will be arriving at the Western Science Center to study the mastodons in the museum collections.

“The Western Science Center has an amazing collection of mastodon fossils that I had a brief opportunity to study last summer. While studying them, I began to realize how different they were – in size and shape – from mastodons from other regions of the country,” says Dr. Kathlyn Smith of Georgia Southern University, one of the participating researchers who will be attending the Valley of the Mastodons workshop. “I’m thrilled to find out what new ideas and research opportunities this ‘meeting of the mastodon minds’ will produce, and am delighted to share the research process and interact with members of the public through this exhibit!”

Other participating researchers include Chris Widga (East Tennessee University), Jeremy Green (Kent State University), Eric Scott (Cogstone Resource Management), Gregory Smith (Vanderbilt University), Dr. Bernard Means (Virginia Commonwealth University), Kathleen Springer (USGS), and Dr. Grant Zazula (Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture). The exhibit will also feature artwork by paleoartist Brian Engh.

Members of the public will be able to talk with the scientists during museum hours; local students will be invited to the Valley of the Mastodons workshop to hear lectures from the researchers.

“The Diamond Valley Lake fossils are having a major impact on our understanding of Ice Age California, and mastodons are a big part of that story,” says Dr. Alton Dooley, Executive Director of the Western Science Center. “WSC’s mastodon collection is the largest on the west coast and one of the largest in North America, and we’re proud to have this opportunity to advance scientific and public knowledge of these interesting animals.”

Valley of the Mastodons is sponsored in part by Bone Clones, Inc., Golden Village Palms RV Resort, Abbott Vascular, and California Imaging & Diagnostics. A special exhibit reception for WSC members and VIPs will be held on August 4th at 5:30 PM; light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will open to the public August 5th.

Admission to the Western Science Center is $8.00 for adults, $6.50 for seniors 62+, $6.50 for students 13-22 w/ID, $6.00 for youth 5-12, under 4 years old is free, and Active Military (individual) w/ID is free. Valley of the Mastodons will run until early 2018.

For more information, please contact:
Brittney Stoneburg
Marketing & Events Specialist
951-791-0033 |


Interested in volunteering at the Western Science Center? Apply today with our new online application!

From working with fossils in our lab to sharing your knowledge with visitors out on the museum floor, we have opportunities available in almost every part of the museum. Volunteers log thousands of hours a year to help us further our mission to inspire our community to discover the past, explore the present, and promote a sustainable future.

All potential volunteers must complete the museum’s volunteering training program and a reference check.



Now open! A new permanent exhibit that includes a replica skull of the giant dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as other original and replica fossils. The exhibit, called “Harley Garbani ­­– Dinosaur Hunter” features discoveries from a famous local fossil collector.

Harley Garbani was the son of a farming family in San Jacinto Valley. He discovered his first fossil bone at the age of eight while helping his father plow the fields. That fossil, part of an extinct camel, is on display in the exhibit and sparked in Garbani a life-long interest in paleontology and archaeology. He spent the rest of his life collecting fossils and artifacts from California and other western states, many of which are now housed at the Los Angeles County Museum and the Western Science Center.

Many of Garbani’s most famous discoveries were made in Montana, where he collected dinosaurs. The T. rex he discovered there in the 1960’s is one of the largest known specimens of Tyrannosaurus. In 1997 he discovered the skull from a baby Triceratops, a horned dinosaur known mostly from adult specimens. Replicas of both the T. rex and the Triceratops skulls are included in the Western Science Center exhibit.

In recognition of Garbani’s work, in 1990 the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology awarded him the first Morris F. Skinner Award for “outstanding and sustained contributions to scientific knowledge through the making of important collections of fossil vertebrates.”

“Harley Garbani ­­– Dinosaur Hunter” is a permanent exhibit at the Western Science Center and is included in the general admission price.

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