If Cal State Fullerton mascot Tuffy Titan is looking a little long in the tusk, just wait until you see the new elephant in town.
Cal State Fullerton is about to receive a woolly mammoth skeleton about 20,000 years old. The giant fossil will be installed this fall in a permanent display in the Titan Student Union.
John Gregg, a Huntington Beach geotechnical engineer, and his Gregg Family Foundation have donated the extinct mammoth skeleton to the university. Gregg has kept the fossil in crates since acquiring it from a friend and fossil collector.
The rare fossil, almost fully intact, was found about 15 years ago in a remote area of western Siberia, Russia, near the Ob River, said Gregg, president of Gregg Drilling & Testing Inc., a geological sampling company in Signal Hill.
“I’m happy that the mammoth is going to get out of the dusty storage shed so people can enjoy viewing it,” he said.
The mammoth skeleton, 11 feet tall at the shoulders and 24 feet from tusks to tail, will be installed in a museum-type display in the TSU’s Chapman Atrium, a high-traffic area outside the Portola Pavilion.
CSUF’s Division of University Advancement, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center, and Associated Students Inc. partnered with Gregg to make the donation possible and build the exhibit.
“This is a priceless fossil that will help educate and inspire thousands of students and guests as they walk through the Titan Student Union,” said Michael Karg, the university’s senior director of development. “It’s hard to put a value on it, but similar mammoth fossils have been sold at auction for between $200,000 and $400,000.”
The design includes a glass wall, security cameras and alarm system to keep viewers at arm’s length from the woolly mammoth, said Carol McDoniel, ASI director of administration.
While the shaggy-coated mammoths did not roam in what is now Orange County, Columbian mammoths and mastodons lived in the region, including near campus in Fullerton, explained James F. Parham, CSUF associate professor of geological sciences and Cooper Center faculty curator of paleontology. He and his students are studying these local fossils at the Cooper Center in Santa Ana, a partnership between CSUF and OC Parks.