Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 (Matt Morrison). More than 1,200 feet up on a hillside in Irvine probably isn’t the first place you’d expect to find the final resting place of a 40-foot sperm whale, but that’s what Melissa Macias stumbled upon last month.
The paleontologist with Santa Ana engineering contractor Psomas noticed something unusual while doing a site survey May 20 at the Frank R. Bowerman Landfill.
“I was walking down this hillside. I found a bone outcropping. I followed it and there was more bone and more bone, and then the teeth,” Macias recalled. “I knew that it was something big, something exciting. I didn’t really know what it was at the time.”
The find turned out to be fossils — parts of a skull, part of a jawbone, a flipper bone and 18 mostly intact teeth — from a sperm whale estimated to have lived 10 million to 12 million years ago.
The remains were unveiled to the media Tuesday morning at the landfill.