SAN DIEGO -- Start digging into Southern California and you never know what you'll find.

The fossilized remains of an Ice Age bison were found by a Caltrans construction crew near Pala Mesa in northern San Diego County. The crew was working on a construction project at Interstate 15 and California 76.

Scientists say the remains are about 200,000 years old and are the first of their kind found in Southern California.

In about six weeks, after more digging, the remains -- including skull and hip bones -- will be displayed at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

The find, said Thomas Demere, curator of paleontology at the museum, was like "an early Christmas."

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tony.perry@latimes.com