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Fossils Of Extinct Sea Mammal Found In Channel Islands; May Top 20 Million Years Old

(Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History/National Park Service Photo)
Researchers work on fossils of Sea Cow on Santa Cruz Island

Researchers say they’ve found the fossils of an extinct species of marine mammal in the Channel Islands which may be more than 20 million years old.

Some geologists studying earthquake faults on Santa Rosa Island came across some bones encased in rock in a steep ravine. It’s believed they belong to a now extinct relative of a modern-day manatee, known as a sea cow.

Paleontologist Dr. Jonathan Hoffman, with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, says while testing is still underway, they may turn out to be the oldest fossils of their type on the West Coast. The researcher says they’ve found parts of at least four sea cows.

They’re working to protect the area from upcoming winter rains, and plan to do a full dig when the weather improves in late spring or early summer of next year.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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