Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County is at 19450 Ave. 21 ½. In the early 1990s a landfill worker discovered a mammoth tusk buried in the site's brown clay. Further excavation revealed more than 15,000 bones and fossils from prehistoric animals that lived in California's Central Valley during the last ice age, their bones buried for more than half a million years under sand, silt and clay.
Among the fossils on display are a saber-tooth cat, Columbian mammoth, dire wolf and a giant ground sloth. Children can learn how bones are excavated at a mock digging area. Also on the grounds is a pond landscaped with plants native to the San Joaquin Valley.
Note: The center is located in the midst of fruit and nut orchards; bees are brought in during the spring months to pollinate the trees, so visitors who have an allergic reaction to bee stings should use caution.
Guided tours are available. Picnicking is permitted.