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The Quaternary in California, US

Quaternary in California map

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Geologic map of CA from California Geological Survey (625 KB PDF)

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Quaternary Fossils
Fossil photos from Quaternary in California

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Paleontology and geology

Although the La Brea Tar Pits may be the best-known deposits from California, most Quaternary sediments are gravels laid down by large river systems throughout the state. Both of these types of deposits contain well-preserved vertebrate and plant fossils, similar to the flora and fauna we see today. Glaciers developed in the Sierra Nevada during colder climate intervals, and large lakes formed in the Great Valley, Owens Valley, and the Salton Sea. The floras from lower elevations indicate a more moderate, Mediterranean climate that was warmer to the south. Marine terrace deposits can be found along the coast, mainly in Southern California.

Links to more on the Quaternary in California

Organizations | Education and Exhibits | Resources


Museums (showing 3 of 4 listings)

George C. Page Museum: Explore a virtual exhibit about the Tar Pits, learn about the animals and environments of California during the Quaternary, and find information on when, where, and how to visit the La Brea Tar Pits.

The Cooper Channel: From the Dr. John D. Cooper Center Archaeological and Paleontological Center, comes the Cooper Channel. A channel dedicated to producing educational shows for all ages that focus on Orange County paleontology and archaeology.

Western Science Center: Riverside County's premier natural history museum! The Western Science Center features Ice Age mammal collections, as well as early European settlement and Native American archaeological material. With hands-on interactives, rotating temporary exhibitions, and a wide variety of community programs, the Western Science Center is fun for the whole family! 

More Museums

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Government Agencies (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center: The Dr. John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center is dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural history of Orange County, California. The Cooper Center, a partnership between O.C. Parks and California State University Fullerton, is committed to the preservation, curation, and management of the fossils and artifacts collected within the County.

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Education and Exhibits

Virtual Exhibits (showing 2 of 2 listings)

Mastodon in Oakland! the Rustler Ranch Project: This site features the story of a mastodon excavated and prepared by The Oakland Museum of California science preparation staff. Contains information on mastodons as well as fossil excavation and preparation techniques.

Localities of the Pleistocene: The La Brea Tar Pits: This site offers a discussion and images of fossils from the La Brea Tar Pits.

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Image Collections (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Some Fossil Brachiopods: Images of several fossil brachiopods, dating in geologic age from early Cambrian to Pleistocene, with explanatory text.

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Field Guides (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Fossils From Pleistocene Lake Manix, California: The fossiliferous Upper Pleistocene Manix Formation on California's Mojave Desert; many images of fossils; detailed virtual field trips, plus many pertinent links.

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General Reference (showing 1 of 1 listings)

Fossils In Death Valley National Park: The paleontology, geology and natural wonders of Death Valley National Park (and more); many images of fossils; field trips; paleontology links, plus links to Death Valley.

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