San Francisco Bay Region Geology and Geologic Hazards

Stories > Mount Diablo - Cenozoic (mammal-age) fossil (saber-toothed cat)

Mount Diablo - Cenozoic (mammal-age) fossil (saber-toothed cat)

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A skull of smilodon californicus, the California state fossil.
The California state fossil is the Pleistocene (Ice Age) saber-toothed cat, smilodon californicus. Smaller, more ancient saber-toothed cats are found in the Miocene rocks on the southwest flank of Mount Diablo, near Blackhawk.


Fossils form when the remains of plants and animals, or traces of their lives such as footprints, are buried in sediments and preserved when the sediments are converted to sedimentary rocks. Sometimes the original animal or plant material is preserved, other times only an imprint or mold is preserved, and sometimes the original material is replaced by new material in the same shape as the original.

Learn more about fossils at the USGS or by visiting the Paleontology Portal External link - link policy applies Web site.

Learn more about smilodon californicus (PDF)

Learn more about the Miocene fossils of Mount Diablo. External link - link policy applies



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Page Last Modified: 8/18/2006