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Ancient sea life thrived in Central Valley Fossil shark teeth, like the one depicted here, which belonged to Carcharocles megalodon, an ancient relative of today's great white sharks have been collected by the thousands from a unique rock unit called the Sharktooth Hill bonebed in Kern County, California.
Sharks, and many other extinct species of marine animals, lived in this area of California about 15 million years ago. less Fossil shark teeth, like the one depicted here, which belonged to Carcharocles megalodon, an ancient relative of today's great white sharks have been collected by the thousands from a unique rock unit called. more Paleontologists Randall Irmis and Jere Lipps study the Sharktooth Hill bonebed, in California, which is a unique rock unit that preserves fossil marine animals over 15 million years old, including extinct giant sharks, whales, seals and sea turtles. less Paleontologists Randall Irmis and Jere Lipps study the Sharktooth Hill bonebed, in California, which is a unique rock unit that preserves fossil marine animals over 15 million years old, including extinct giant. more In a coastal bay fronting an ancient sea where Bakersfield now stands, the waters once swarmed with giant 40 foot sharks, ancestral seals larger than any known today, and the ancestors of countless other marine animals long extinct. That was 15 million years ago, but evidence of their existence lies in a priceless layer of fossils where a team of scientists from UC Berkeley has discovered clues telling how that fantastic fossil rich site known as Sharktooth Hill formed in the water and was exposed to the surface much, much later. The area was shallow and rich with sea life. The marine animals lived and died there by the millions for as long as 700,000 years, the scientists say. And there is no evidence, they say, that the animals all died at once from some lethal red tide or in a violent earthquake. The loss of life there was gradual. Eventually, sediments buried the bones and created a fossil rich underwater shelf that is arguably the richest "bone bed" in the world, the scientists say. Much, much later, earthquakes heaved the undersea burial ground upward as the restless San Andreas Fault lurched and lurched again. Even more fossil layers were uncovered as sea level surges during a long period of global warming finally kate spade factory outlet online subsided, the scientists said. Sharks of Sharktooth Hill Amateur fossil collectors and paleontologists alike have been digging up treasured bones at Sharktooth Hill for many decades. On Friday, in the journal Geology, k spade the scientists report on their latest findings and conclusions about the area's origins. Sharktooth Hill gets its name from the many huge teeth of ancestral sharks known as Megalodon found there, which provide clear evidence it was once a rich watery feasting ground for the giant predators, ancestors of today's great whites. The waters also teemed with sea turtles whose shells were three times larger than any of today's leatherbacks, plus whales, sea cows, porpoises and fish both large and small, the team reports. "It revealed long cycles of life and death that lasted many thousands of years during the Miocene epoch, when the Earth was hot and the ocean was warm," Pyenson, a specialist in fossil whales, said in an interview. During that epoch, the range was still rising, and sand from the growing mountains must have run down to the shore and into the shallow waters of the broad Miocene embayment that geologists now call the Temblor Sea. Eventually over many years, the sand buried the bodies of all the marine and land animals to create a layer where is kate spade sold of bones from 6 to 20 inches thick above a deeper layer of dense mud riddled with the kate spade space burrows of long extinct shrimp, Lipps said. Scientists call these dense layers of fossils "bone beds," and they are packed together as if they were cemented. Sharktooth Hill is the largest in the world, according to Lipps. To tease out, describe and identify many of the bones, Lipps and his colleagues carved a single huge block of the bone bed about three feet square and hauled it back to Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology for analysis. Sharktooth Hill has been known for its trove of fossils on the surface since 1850, and Lipps himself has been researching there for 50 years. A small segment of the hill has been designated for protection as a National Natural Landmark, but Lipps said a much larger fossil rich area covering several square miles badly needs protection, too. 'A fantastic natural feature' "It's as important to science and the public as the in Utah and Colorado, and the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles," he said. In fact, the entire fossil bed appears to be huge, Pyenson said.
It lies exposed to the surface for nearly 10 miles, he said. But from the team's surveys and information from oil drilling crews, it probably covers more than 20 square miles at the very least much of it in private hands, he said. "It's a fantastic natural feature, and our work there is a synthesis of evidence about the Earth's history, the ocean's history and the history of biology," Pyenson said.
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