Mastodons (and Scientists) Return to Diamond Valley Lake for a New Exhibit & Workshop

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 | bstoneburg@westerncentermuseum.org

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