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Department of Biology,
San Diego State University

San Diego Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum, which has already collected 7-1/2 million specimens over the last century and a quarter, is looking for a few good fossickers to discover more new species. "This is one amazing thing about San Diego," says Dr. Jon Rebman, curator of botany. "We're finding new species every year." San Diego, it is agreed, is the most biologically diverse county in the United States. Two years ago Mike Simpson at San Diego State named a new organism that only occurs in two vernal pools on Camp Pendleton. Last year botanists identified for the first time a native mustard that occurs right next to the main trailhead in the Cuyamacas. Where to start? Vernal pools in the county mesas. They have many life forms wiggling through them waiting to be identified. And it's urgent: after perhaps 400,000 years doing just fine here, they've been 97 percent bulldozed. The last 3 percent may go without our ever knowing the life forms they spawned.

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