The ancient world of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures will come alive once again during this year’s National Fossil Day (October 17, 2018). To celebrate the day, the National Park Service encourages activities that highlight the importance of preserving fossils and promotes understanding of their scientific relevance. Aspiring paleontologists in Riverside County should visit the Western Science Center in Hemet for a look at local fossils from the area often referred to as “the Valley of the Mastodons.”
During excavation for the reservoir known as Diamond Valley Lake in the Santa Margarita River Watershed hundreds of fossils were unearthed. These discoveries prompted the creation of the Western Science Center.
Bones and skeletons from ancient animals like mastodons and mammoths that roamed the Earth during the Pleistocene age make up the majority of the collection at the Center. A 10 ft tall mastodon skeleton nicknamed “Max” by the Center staff as well as a 12 ft tall mammoth skeleton “Xena” are on display. A permanent exhibit recreates the quarry site from the reservoir to showcase how these large fossils were uncovered.
The Center is family friendly, open on weekends with reasonable admission fees and many activities for kids. Science Saturday, during the first weekend of every month, provides scientific activities, games and demonstrations for students in elementary and middle school.