Fossils in Your Backyard: A Look at the Fossils Discovered During Construction of The Toll Roads

To serve as a resource for educators and adults as they create or supplement homeschool content, educational resources have been unearthed from The Toll Roads’ archives. For the latest in re-released and newly-released educational resources, visit TheTollRoads.com/Educational-Resources.

The first unearthed and rereleased educational resource is The Toll Roads’ Fossils in Your Backyard book for coloring and learning. The book teaches young readers about fossils, paleontology and the animals that roamed Orange County a million years ago.

Click here to download the Fossils in Your Backyard book.

Fun Facts to Accompany the Book

  • More than 20,000 fossils were recovered during construction of The Toll Roads from 1995 to 1998. This is the largest collection of cataloged fossils specifically related to Orange County.
  • Scientists say the 241 Toll Road project was particularly significant because it revealed the widest swath of Orange County’s history in one glimpse. Paleontologists spent more than 50,000 hours collecting fossils during its construction.
  • The most significant fossil discoveries were Great White Shark (“Megalodon”) teeth dating back 10 to 17 million years; a giant Desmostylian, an extinct marine mammal and distant relative of the sea cow and manatee that lived about 10 to 15 million years ago when Orange County was mostly under water; and duck-billed dinosaur bones (back vertebrae and toe) dating back 75 million years ago.
  • Paleontologists followed bulldozers and scrapers during construction of The Toll Roads looking for fossils. When fossils were found, the area was roped off and grading was diverted. Then, the paleontologists carefully extracted the fossil and recorded the location, rock layer and other important information used to study them in the lab.
  • In 2003, TCA transferred the fossils to the County of Orange and contributed funding for fossil identification, preparation, storage and public display.

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