STOCK, Chester

From Islapedia

STOCK, Chester (1892-1950), was born in San Francisco of German-immigrant parents. Stock became an authority on the Pleistocene mammals of California, scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, and president of the Geological Society of America at the time of his death.

Stock discovered remains of elephants on the northwest coast of Santa Rosa Island in 1928, and described the Santa Rosa mammoth as a new species, Elephas exilis. He gave a lecture, “The History of Land Mammals of the Glacial Period in Southern California,” at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in February 1929, emphasizing the abundance of materials found, and the importance of the recent discovery. In March, 1933, Stock gave another lecture, “Hunting Extinct Elephants on the Channel Islands” [leaflet April 1933]. Stock died at age 58 in Pasadena, California on December 7, 1950.

Directory of Members, Cooper Ornithological Club, May 1914:

  • Chester Stock. 492 Seventh St., San Francisco, CA 1912.

  • 1929. Stock, Chester & E. L. Furlong Pleistocene Elephant on Santa Rosa Island, California (abstract) Geological Society of America Bulletin 40(1):175, 1929

  • 1935. Stock, Chester Exiled Elephants of the Channel Islands Scientific Monthly 41:205-214, 1935

  • 1936. Stock, Chester Ice Age Elephants of the Channel Islands Westways (14-15) 1936

  • 1943 Stock, Chester Foxes and Elephants of the Channel Islands Los Angeles County Museum Leaflet Series 3(2-4):6-9, 1943
[stapled copy in SCIF archives]

In the News~

March 2, 1928 [BDGZ]: “Proof that Santa Rosa Island, one of the Santa Barbara chain, was at one time thehome of elephants was offered members of the Paleontological Society of America, Pacific Coast Branch, at its meeting here today by Chester Stock and E. L. Furlong, both former members of the University faculty and now affiliated with the California Institute of Technology. Remains of the elephants were found in Pleistocene deposits on the island as early as 1873, but a thorough search of the island, the classification of material and a decision on its significance have just been completed…”

April 2, 1928 [OC]: “Santa Rosa Island, off Hueneme, was once the stamping ground of great herds of pigmy [sic] elephants. This was back in the Pleistocene, or Glacial, age. You can take a pickaxe now, go to the great cliffs facing the sea in the northwestern section of the island, and dig out remains of these elephants. These facts were told in a lecture at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon by Dr. Chester Stock, professor of vertebrate paleontology, California Institute of Technology. The elephant remains found from 40 to 60 feet down the sides of the cliff, indicating that many thousands of years have passed since since the cataclysm that separated the Channel Islands from the mainland, Dr. Stock said. On top of the plain, and lying in sand dune formation, the remains of scores of Indians of a comparatively recent time were unearthed. ‘These dune formations are in the northwest section of the island. You can dig down most any place in one section there and encounter human skeletons. The elephant remains, however, were laid down on a plain cut by the sea thousands of years ago. That this plain was the result of marine action was indicated in the finding at that depth of marine fossils, including the vertebrae of a large whale.’”

January 5, 1930 [LAT]: “How did they get there? Remains of ancient elephants and their long-nosed kin are being unearthed everywhere it seems, even on Santa Rosa Island. This is the second largest of four islands to the westward of Santa Barbara, upon which Dr. Spencer Atkinson and J. A. Barbieri, of Pasadena, recently recovered an elephant skull. Since then Professor Chester Stock and E. L. Furlong, of the California Institute of Technology, have collected an assortment of elephant fossils—enough to show that quite a herd of small-sized pachyderms inhabited the island during Pleistocene times. ‘One curious feature of the occurrence,’ says Professor Stock, ‘is the apparent total absence of associated mammalian types.’ Since the channel is twenty miles wide and over 600 feet deep, the absence of other animals, such as sabertooth tigers and lions, is more easily understood than the presence there of pachyderms.”