Paleontology: A Deep Dive into San Diego History

This exciting new exhibit illustrates the ancient history of life in the Southern California region with special attention given to the fossils found in the geologic record here in South Bay San Diego. Visitors experience a cross-section of layers showing simulated fossils of a Mosasaur, an Albertosaurus, saber-tooth cat, dire wolf, and marine mammals such as the first baleen whale, and an extinct porpoise found only in San Diego.

Real fossils found locally appear in one layer of the exhibit. These fossils are traces of creatures that lived millions of years ago during the Pliocene when the sea covered what eventually became the Chula Vista/Bonita region. Visitors can also peer into a miniature diorama featuring a model of a paleontologist who has just discovered a fossil dinosaur in a gem-lined cave.

Illustrated guides show the locations and names of the various species on the exhibit giving kids of all ages the chance to test their knowledge. A large painted backdrop will show an artist’s interpretation of how the Sweetwater Valley may have looked 3 million years ago during the Pliocene.

About the exhibit:
Exhibit designer Brian Gibson worked with Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat), to design an exhibit that highlights the fossil rich area of South Bay San Diego. Tom was instrumental in helping pull together the information needed to create this new display. Interns from the Mesa College Museum Studies Program helped with developing, designing and fabricating the exhibit. Exhibit designer and artist Jim Melli, who also works at The Nat, created the backdrop that helps tell the story of the Sweetwater Valley during the Pliocene.

This exhibit was made possible through the generous support of the Sefton Foundation, Las Primeras and The Bonita Museum Board of Directors.

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