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Sabertooth Cat Fossils Discovered on First Solar’s Desert Sunlight Project Site

Posted 20 September 2013 11:00 PM by First Solar

First Solar’s PV power projects provide broad-ranging benefits throughout their construction and operation. In addition to generating clean energy and creating local jobs, First Solar projects help protect biodiversity, preserve cultural heritage sites and contribute to rare paleontological discoveries.

On June 5th, during cultural monitoring of its 550 megawatt (MW) Desert Sunlight project in the Chuckwalla Valley, First Solar uncovered bones belonging to the carnivorous Sabertooth Cat or Smilodon, meaning “knife tooth.” The prehistoric predator roamed the plains of North America over 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age. The fossil was almost completely intact and is an exceptionally rare and exciting paleontological find. “We were surprised and pleased to find saber-toothed cat bone fragments here,” said Geraldine Aron, site paleontologist. “One of the benefits of this project is that it is not only helping meet today’s energy needs, but also allowing us to discover more about the region’s past.”

The Desert Sunlight team follows procedural guidelines outlined in the project’s Paleontological Treatment Plan to ensure prehistoric resources are carefully managed and protected. The fossil along with any others found at the site will be permanently on catalog at the Western Science Center in Hemet when Desert Sunlight is complete in 2015.

Cultural monitoring and biodiversity protection are critical components of First Solar’s site preparation process. Each year, First Solar invests millions of dollars to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts during the construction of its PV power projects, in line with its mission to create enduring value by powering the world with clean and affordable energy. First Solar employs highly qualified biologists, paleontologists, and archaeologists to monitor its projects, help protect cultural and paleontological resources, and ensure that earth disturbing activities cause the least impact to native plant and animal species. For First Solar, preserving local habitat and resources is an important part of bringing clean solar power to the grid.

About Desert Sunlight

Desert Sunlight is a 550 MW photovoltaic solar power project being constructed by First Solar and co‐owned by GE Energy Financial Resources, NextEra Energy Resources, and Sumitomo Corporation of America. When construction is complete, Desert Sunlight will provide enough clean, renewable energy for about 160,000 average California homes while displacing approximately 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year—the equivalent of taking about 60,000 cars off the road.