A discovery of mammoth proportions was made in the North Valley.
Paleontologists unearth a treasure trove of fossils dating back to the ice age.
The fossilized bones of mammoths and other prehistoric animals were discovered during a highway expansion project along Highway 99 at Arboleda Drive, south of Merced.
The find gives an insight into what roamed the Valley floor back in the ice age.
Caltrans had a paleontologist on site when the discovery was made because it was suspected fossils would be found in that area.
Besides mammoth bones, scientists have identified what they believe are the remains of dogs, camels, antelope, horse and bison. Scientists say it's unusual to find so many ice age fossils in Merced County.
Angela Daprato with the California Department of Transportation said, "Caltrans right now is working to determining each fossil that we're finding and their era but right now we are stating that the mammoth is from the ice age."
It's believed woolly mammoths were creatures that lived during the last glacial period and became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
Construction of the $128 million high project stopped as soon as the bones were located to give scientists time to identify and remove the artifacts. "Caltrans is committed to preserving these historical artifacts and we always use proper protocol to maintain their integrity for proper study," said Daprato.
The last time mammoth fossils were found in the Central Valley was back in the 1990s in Madera County.
Caltrans is widening the 4-lane highway to a 6-lane freeway south of Merced.