1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Calaveras Skull
CALAVERAS SKULL, a famous fossil cranium, reported by Professor J. D. Whitney as found (1886) in the undisturbed auriferous gravels of Calaveras county, California. The discovery at once raised the still discussed question of “tertiary man” in the New World. Doubt has been thrown on the genuineness of the find, as the age of the gravels is disputed and the skull is of a type corresponding exactly with that of the present Indian inhabitants of the district. Whitney assigns the fossil to late Tertiary (Pliocene) times, and concludes that “man existed in California previous to the cessation of volcanic activity in the Sierra Nevada, to the epoch of the greatest extension of the glaciers in that region and to the erosion of the present river cañons and valleys, at a time when the animal and vegetable creation differed entirely from what they now are. . . .” The specimen is preserved in the Peabody museum, Cambridge, Mass.