About the Exhibit
The fossils on display in this exhibit come from two totally different eras in Earth’s history. Mastodons lived 25,000 years ago, while the fish and dinosaur lived in this area over 200 million years ago.
The Mastodon tusk and the jaw were found in Lenape Park in Cranford in 1936 during the digging of a new lake. Paleontologists determined that the tusk and jaw were from a young male.
While the newspaper article about the discovery in The Elizabeth Daily Journal described a discovery of several hundred bones and a second tusk, it turned out that there was no way to verify this story. If those bones did exist, there is no record of them ever being turned over to any museum.
The search for the notes of the paleontologists who worked on the site led from the NJ State Museum to the Princeton University archives to the Yale Peabody Museum at Yale University. Any notes on the dig appear to have been lost to the ages. And checks with historical sources around Union County failed to turn up any evidence as to whatever happened to the Mastodon finds in Westfield and Union Township.
While the fish, fern and dinosaur fossils are far older, their discovery was more recent. Dr. Paul Olsen from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory discovered those fossils in the Watchung Reservation in 1970 in a geologic area known as the Feltville Limestone.