One summer day in 2005, Roger Castillo, a San Jose truck mechanic, was walking his dog, Jenna, along the Guadalupe River. They were just north of West Trimble Road and the Mineta San Jose Airport, when Jenna started sniffing at something in a drainage ditch.
Roger and Jenna on the Guadalupe River (left) and a map of where the mammoth fossil was found.
There were clearly some large bones poking through the sandy clay. Roger has been walking along the river and taking note of its wildlife for the past 30 years. He had never seen anything like this before!
He knew these bones must be important, so he called a geologist from San Jose State University and notified the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) that owned the property where he saw the bones.
Former UCMP grad student Randy Irmis at the mammoth dig site.
The geologist, David Anderson, came out to the site and immediately recognized that there were two tusks sticking out of the ground as well as some other bones. He called the assistant director of the Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), Mark Goodwin, to come take a look. Mark agreed that there were tusks and other bones in the ground and said they either belonged to a mammoth or mastodon.
Map of the dig site showing where each bone was found relative to the others.
Mark and some UCMP graduate students excavated the site for two weeks in July of 2005. The team uncovered part of a skull, a femur, pieces of the pelvis, some toe bones, and rib fragments. Once the skull was brought to the UCMP and prepared, they confirmed that it belonged to a juvenile mammoth.
Lupe's skull, excavated and prepared.
Watch the below video from KTEH TV to see Roger Castillo, Jenna and the scientists excavating Lupe from the river.