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Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors



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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kern County Fossil Hill is for sale...

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Scientists fear sale of Sharktooth Hill will stop research


excerpted from http://www.turnto23.com/news/19738515/detail.html

6/13/2009--BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Last week, scientists said they solved an enduring mystery about the origins of a prehistoric boneyard of gigantic marine creatures in the desolate desert here.But another mystery has arisen: Will the looming sale of the land mean the end of research into the one of the largest finds of mid-Miocene fossils?...

Two years ago, Robert Ernst, the amateur paleontologist who owned the property, died unexpectedly and without a will.Since then his widow, Mary, 53, has suffered through heartache, probate and a back injury, which is forcing her early retirement next month from the Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Department. She said she is selling the site on Sharktooth Hill to pay her husband's loans, taxes and legal fees."To the right person, it could really be special. Like it was to Bob," said Ernst, who with her attorney, Stephen Boyle, sent out 35 prospectuses to potential buyers, including some of the nation's top paleontology museums. They decline to say how much they are seeking for the 342-acre site, appraised at roughly $132,000 as marginal grazing land. The land--which has yielded priceless intact specimens, such as the ancient sea lion Allodesmus--is slated to go July 17 to the highest bidder...
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excerpted from: http://www.sharkteethrus.com/stuff/teeth/2usa-ca.htm

Imagine you've sailed through the narrow waterway south of present-day San Francisco, leaving the Pacific Ocean and entering the Temblor Sea. You caught a rising tide and effortlessly rode the current eastward. You've sailed for hundreds of miles southeast across this huge body of water. Occasionally you were accompanied by a whale or pod of dolphin. All the while, you knew that just below the surface lurked the largest predator that ever lived - the Megalodon shark. You've just reached the southeastern shore, not far from present-day Bakersfield, California. It is a lush tropical location, with reefs, lagoons, palm trees - plants and animals as far as you can see. Along the shore there is a rookery of sea lions and a strange hippopotamus-like animal. In the shallows is something that looks like a sea cow. The water is alive, with all types of fish and aquatic mammals. "Snap" - you're back to the present. The photo to the right shows the way that shoreline looks today. It's not so lush and tropical anymore. In fact the surface is significantly different, with hills and valleys where there was once sea floor. If you go there today, be sure to bring plenty of water with you. Fossil adventures in this semi-arid region, are not for the faint hearted.


What's so special about Sharktooth Hill?

First, why is it called "Sharktooth Hill"? Some say it refers to the shape of a mountain in the area. Some say it's because of the fossil shark teeth that are found there. It actually refers to a small hill where fossil shark teeth had been excavated many years ago. Among all the other hills in the area, it's not likely it would impress you much, if you saw it. These days, the term "Sharktooth Hill" has grown to refer to the general area, which is more precisely called the Round Mountain Silt portion of the Temblor Fossil Formation. Much of the land is owned by Oil Companies, as evidenced by the prolific oil wells in the area. Some of the most fossil productive areas are owned by private individuals, who obviously don't want just anyone coming out and digging up their land. In the surrounding area though, are a shrinking number of other locations where the fossil layer is still exposed and accessible to the public (don't ask). It's a small area and likely to be developed soon, so those of us who know about it don't advertise it's location.

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