Madera County was just about to celebrate its centennial in May 1993, when suddenly its 100th birthday party got pushed to the back burner. Four days before the celebration in Courthouse Park, employees of Madera Disposal, Inc. stumbled across something they could hardly believe.
On Wednesday, May 12, the banner headline of The Madera Tribune shouted, “Mammoth find at landfill.” Art Alejandre, an administrative assistant for Madera Disposal, had found four huge molars belonging to some prehistoric creature. The County engineer was called in, and immediately speculation began to run rampant. Had Alejandre stumbled across Madera County’s own “Jurassic Park?”
Someone made a call to Howard Hutchison, a paleontologist from the University of California, Berkeley, who made a guess over the phone, based on the descriptions of the teeth that had been unearthed. They were black and had several ridges about half an inch apart.
Hutchison said Alejandre had seemingly stumbled upon a mammoth from the Pleistocene era, and could have been anywhere from 10,000 to 2.5 million years old. The Berkeley scientist indicated enough of an interest in the find that he made arrangements to visit the site that weekend...